Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: ***+ $ d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia , 2008 (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background: The Stump Jump Shiraz, 2008, is one of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2009. (You can check out the Top 10 from that list here.)

"Stump jump" itself is the name of a plow which was used in South Australia to clear land and make its way over the gnarly Eucalyptus tree roots. Chester Osborn, a fourth generation family winemaker in the McLaren Vale of Australia, make The Stump Jump by fermenting shiraz grapes in open tanks and basket pressing. The result delivers a potent 14.5% alcohol.

Original review, November, 2009

In the glass: The Stump Jump is a deep purple burgundy in the glass, moving towards opaque about a half inch in from the sides.

On the nose: Aroma is sandy purple fruit, with an element of iron ore.

On the palate: This first hits as a more red-fruited, slightly sweet middle than I would have imagined. Think sweet red raspberry-strawberry compote, not acidy at all. From the first sip, the potent alcohol brings light cherry up into the fringes of your cheeks.

And the finish: Sits clean, sweet and red in your mouth for quite awhile, trailing with a slightly bright sheen.

In summary: Pleasant experience. Enough going on for me to want to try again someday, thus awarding three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale. Not sure I would see the benefit of aging, it seems to knit together on its light to medium-body legs already. Great value.

Wine Spectator awarded 90 points, tapping it as one of the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2009, and saying, "Ripe and open-textured, this is impressive for the way it packs in the cherry, blackberry and raspberry flavors and doesn't take the foot off the gas pedal until the mineral-inflected finish has played through. Drink now through 2018. 5,000 cases imported."

Updated review, a year and a half later, May, 2011: Aroma is deep fruit, with a touch of clean dirt. Mid-palate has grown richer, rounder, while remaining sweet with red berry fruit, deep raspberry and cherries coming first to mind.  The alcohol is much subtler now, supporting a bold overall experience.  The finish is long and gliding.  Much improved experience with the extra year in bottle, contrary to my skepticism.  Moves to three stars with a plus for the potent overall experience.  An awesome value.

Following  long decant, two days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:  Aroma shy but still deep.  The palate is remarkably consistent, still sound and powerful. Red, round and sweet with clean, crisp finish. 

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  1. like your blog :) we had the 2008 tonight with andouille and sheboygan sausage. this shiraz was too bitter for me, though i confess to liking fruit bombs. i've had my fair share of slightly bitter mclaren vale shiraz ... wonder if that's the norm. anyway, thanks for your post.

  2. Hi G&V, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about that "bitter" element; sometimes I think black pepper too. Do you know Mollydooker Boxer? (review is linked on right side of page) It's the ultimate fruit-bomb McLaren Vale shiraz, with plenty of alcohol but low "bitter". Also, at a slightly higher price point, consider Oliverhill Jimmy Section Shiraz (also linked at right).

  3. wow, thanks for the recs! we'll try them. i've seen mollydooker at our local wine store but not oliverhill. will definitely try to check both of them out.

  4. I had the pleasure of enjoying this particular wine last night at Churchill Grounds Jazz Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. I simply just had wine and no food. My date and I could really feel the alcohol content and thought, "The Stump Jump" was just simply delicious.