Saturday, October 19, 2013

In Defense of Australian Wines: d'Arenberg and Wakefield

Australia is an early stop on the wine lover’s journey, a testing ground for the development of the sophomoric palate. It’s a place where the rookie goes to fulfill the baser desires for ripe fruit and alcohol. But, as you grow wiser, you eventually come to your senses. You discover the Northern Rhone and Bordeaux and leave your childish Aussie-loving ways behind.

Of course, this is all a bunch of crap. Australian wines are amazing. Maybe I’m in the minority among nerds, but I’ve never outgrown Australian reds. And with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, a burly Shiraz sure hits the spot.

I recently tasted through some wines from one of my favorite Aussie producers, d’Arenberg, and another reliable producer, Wakefield. All these wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2012 Wakefield Riesling - Australia, South Australia, Clare Valley
SRP: $16
Light-straw color with the tinges of sea green. Bursting with aromas: key lime, honeysuckle, white peach and minerals. Tingling acid, lots of lime and white peach fruit. The mineral content here is great, and I get a bit of a sea salt aspect as well. Some creamy feel to the wine, but overall this is a focused and brisk Riesling. 12.8% alcohol and .07 g/L residual sugar. (87 points)

2002 d’Arenberg “The Galvo Garage” - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $29
At 12 years old, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc is showing remarkably well. Medium purple color with some slight brick red around the rims. The nose shows smoke and charcoal on top of sweet plum cake and black cherries, notes of beef and tobacco came out with some air. Full and creamy on the palate with finely polished tannins and a solid dose of acid. The cherry and currant fruit is fresh and still going strong, but those aged notes of tobacco, pickle and bay leaf come out in full force. Delicious stuff, and I’m really impressed by how well it’s holding up. (90 points)

2005 d’Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon “The Coppermine Road” - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $60
A simply gorgeous McLaren Vale Cabernet. The nose is full of cherry, black pepper, red licorice, roasted red peppers, and it gets better and better with air. Juicy berry fruit covers the palate, but tangy acid keeps it balanced. I love the combination of cherry, blueberry, roasted coffee and meaty flavors. Powerfully long finish with menthol and rhubarb. Very complex, this deserves a decant and a good meal of roasted meat. Aged 18 months in new and one-year-old French and American oak. (93 points)

2010 d’Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon “The High Trellis” - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $20
A blackberry-purple color. Lots going on aromatically, with plums, black cherries, red licorice and violets. The palate is surprisingly fresh and lively, with medium acid, dusty tannins and tangy fruit. Currant, raspberry and blackberry combine with hints of soil and flowers. A fruit-dominated wine, but the fruit tastes quite good, and the complexity is impressive for the price. (88 points)

2010 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon “Jaraman” - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
SRP: $30
On the nose, juicy blueberry and blackberry mix with aromas of milk chocolate, mint and eucalyptus. On the palate, the blue and black fruit has a nice combination of freshness and sweetness. Flavors of coconut shavings and mint pervade the fruit, and it all works together. Impressive concentration, and full of ripe. Nothing to be ashamed of here, this is serious Aussie Cab. (90 points)

2012 Wakefield Cabernet SauvignonAustralia, South Australia, Mount Clare Valley
SRP: $16
The nose explodes with blackberry, blueberry, milk chocolate and floral notes, so obviously Australian, but enjoyable. Medium tannins, medium acid do a decent job supporting the rich blueberry and blackberry fruit. Notes of toast, mocha and smoke. Despite the richness, it’s still easily drinkable and not overbearing. (86 points)

2009 d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” Shiraz-Viognier - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $29
Juicy plums and blackberries on the nose, along with some coconut, chocolate and rose petals. I like the mouthfeel on this wine a lot, a rich and jammy but really creamy. Polished tannins, noticeable acid. Black cherry, plum, kirsch, it all tastes fresh and juicy. Notes of roasted coffee, braised meat and flower potpourri add complexity. 8% Viognier is co-fermented with the Syrah, and it really adds some freshness and floral tones. (88 points)

2010 d’Arenberg Shiraz “The Blind Tiger” - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $85
Really complex on the nose, with wild blueberries and black cherries accented by caramel, roasted coffee, eucalyptus and sweet flowers. Firm tannins, medium acid, this wine is loaded with flavor. The blueberry and black cherry fruit is pure and delicious, but it’s all backed up by roasted meat, kalamata olive and charcoal. There’s also this wild herb and earthy aspect that I find really attractive. A big wine worthy of a long decant. Very impressive stuff from 87-year-old vines grown in sand and clay soils. (92 points)

2010 Wakefield Shiraz “Jaraman” - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
SRP: $30
Plums, currant tea, fig paste and some woody-leafy aromas. Firm tannins, the black currant and plum fruit tastes fleshy and ripe. It’s all about the fruit here, with some black cherry and dried fig flavors, backed up with some earthy, minty notes. Not over-toasted or overblown, this Shiraz maintains freshness. Fruit-dominated, but complex and it seems capable of some cellaring. 60% of the fruit comes from Clare Valley, the rest from McLaren Vale. (89 points)

2011 d’Arenberg Shiraz “The Stump Jump” - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $13
Medium purple color. Lots of fresh plums and blackberries, inky but also very floral. Creamy texture, the plum and black cherry fruit tastes fresh and juicy. Some vanilla and mocha, but also some serious black pepper and sweet barbecue sauce. Not life-changing, but solid stuff for the price. Damn, that black pepper lingers. (86 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

1 comment:

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