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2002 D'Arenberg The Coppermine Road
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D'Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in the McLaren Vale. In 1912 Joseph Osborn purchased the well established Milton Vineyards in the hills of the Mclaren Vale. Joseh's son, Francis Osborn, left medical school to help his father in the running of the estate. Fruit from the 78 hectares of vineyards was sold to local wineries until his own cellars were complete in 1928. Dry red table and fortified wines were produced in ever increasing quantities to supply the expanding markets of the Empire.
In 1943 Frank's son Francis d'Arenberg, known as 'd'Arry', left school at the age of 16 to help his ailing father to run the business, assuming full management of d'Arenberg in 1957. In the 1960's d'Arenberg wines gained cults status amongst imbiders and judges, gaining a significant international profile in less than 20 years.
Today d'Arry and his son Chester (made chief winemaker in 1984) have rejuvenated the old cellars and 19th century vineyards. Investing in new oak refrigeration and lots of stainless steel tanks which resulted in the production of the Dry Dam Riesling, Olive Grove Chardonnay and botrytis affected Noble Riesling. d'Arenberg is continuing to produce wines that are a credit to both the winery and the region.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
About 15 miles due south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale was one of South Australia’s inaugural regions to be planted in 1839; Tintara was the first commercial vineyard planted in 1862. Post fortifieds, war and a Depression, the dry red wine boom of the 1960s poured life into a multitude of small-medium sized wineries, mostly producing wines from Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon; vineyard hectareage stands at approx. 4000.
In terms of terroir, the region is characterised by a predominantly warm dry temperate climate, with little diurnal shift, despite the cooling presence of the Gulf of St Vincent, and low relative humidity (49%); a gently sloping topography rising NE from the coastal plains at 50 metres up to the Mount Lofty Ranges around Woodstock reaching 350 metres; soils varying between the fertile red loams on the coastal flats through to the hard rock shales & limestone deposits of the Ranges. The most prized terroir is known as the ‘Blue Ribbon’ between the town of McLaren Vale and Kangarilla in the Mount Lofty Ranges, just south of the Onkaparinga River.
Good Shirazes and Cabernets tend to be a deep purple in colour, richly extracted with velvety, luxuriant dark berry, black pepper and chocolate flavours with relatively high pHs, ageing for up to 10 years.