Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: ***+ $$ d'Arenberg McLaren Vale d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache, Australia, 2004 - GOOD VALUE

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By way of background: The d'Arenberg McLaren Vale d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache is a half/half shiraz/grenache blend from d'Arenberg's old, low-yielding vineyards in McLaren Vale, Australia.  The wine, coming in at 14.5% alcohol, spent 18 months in oak maturation before bottling.

Original review, January, 2010:

In the glass: This 'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache shows as very dark burgundy in the glass, opaque to within a half inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured cool without a decant and swirled vigorously, this blend has a potent nose of dark violets, red fruit, a touch of oak, and slight notes of helium (which will blow off with air).

On the palate: The first element on the palate is a bright, tangy and gritty red fruit, right smack up in the roof of your mouth.  Acids and tannins together then clamp down on your tongue and cheeks, holding them hostage while a sprinkling of red fruit is allowed to escape.

And the finish: For the finish, the acids hold sway in your cheeks, finishing clean with a red fruit cast.

In summary: Overall, bright, tangy, red fruit experience, yielding two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Not the charm I experienced in the shiraz-only d'Arenberg Love Grass.

Robert Parker was a much bigger fan of this than I, awarding 91 points, with this note: "One of my consistent favorites from d'Arenberg is their d'Arry's Original, and the terrific 2004 is a super value. A dark ruby/purple color is accompanied by beautiful blackberry, cassis, cherry, and licorice scents with hints of Provencal herbs and pepper in the background. This medium to full-bodied, front end-loaded blend of Shiraz and Grenache possesses considerable fruit, body, and silky tannins as well as enough acidity to provide definition. Drink it over the next 3-4 years."

Following a three-day decant by vacuum in partial bottle: Helium is gone on the aromas, but the other aromas are muted too. On the palate, the gritty tannins are gone, but the red fruits and acids are still there.  Seemed a bit stronger fresh from the bottle.
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Updated review, over about two years later, January, 2012: Consistent color.  Nose is more muted, cool, with no helium.  The palate is an explosion of sparkling red fruits, now sweet, savory and peppery in turn.  A bright and extended finish.  This has held up exceptionally well to the time in bottle, shows absolutely no sluggishness despite being 8 years old.  It touches three stars on the Spirit of Wine scale and scores a plus for its red fruited vivacity.  Good value. Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle: Completely unchanged in nose and palate.  Holds up EXTREMELY well to age and air. 


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