95-Point Flagship Masterpiece From Aussie Standard-Bearer
I’ve had the privilege of tasting d’Arenberg wines back to the 1950s with D’Arry and Chester Osborn, and can say unequivocally that Dead Arm Shiraz is one of the great collector wines of the New World. The Dead Arm is a truly legendary Shiraz that d’Arenberg, one of Australia’s “First Families of Wine” has been making for more than a century. From 90+year-old bush vines, the 2013 Dead Arm Shiraz is a deep, dark, earthy masterpiece. Australia’s top wine critic, James Halliday, called it “a powerful, archetypal Shiraz, swimming with black fruits of every description” and awarded it 95 points. So when our importer partner agreed to give us an allocation of this 2013 Dead Arm, I jumped. The Dead Arm justifiably sells elsewhere for up to $75, so today’s offer is a jaw-dropping value — just $45.99 for d’Arenberg winery’s flagship offering and a longtime standard-bearer of McLaren Vale excellence.
If you visit the McLaren Vale, you simply have to see the d’Arenberg Cube. The mind-blowing tasting room with panoramic views of the winery’s historic vineyards has the shape of Rubik’s Cube in mid-shift. It’s home to an Alternate Realities Museum on its ground floor, with five floors designed to excite the five senses, from a wine inhalation room to a 360-degree video installation, not to mention to the acclaimed on-site restaurant. It’s the brainchild of winemaker Chester Osborn, whom Robert Parker calls “the remarkable person behind this enormous array of both impeccably high quality and value-priced wines.” If you can’t schlep all the way to Australia, this 2013 Shiraz masterpiece crafted by Osborn is your next best bet for transporting you there.
Wine Spectator calls these “some of Australia’s finest Shiraz,” and little about the winemaking has changed since 1928, when Chester’s great-grandfather, recognizing the region’s incredible vinicultural pedigree, established the winery for the vines he’d bought 16 years earlier. Chester and his charismatic nonagenarian father work in the traditional style, employing submerged cap fermentation, foot-treading, and basket-presses for the grapes. In the vineyards, minimalism reigns, with no fertilizers used, little to no irrigation, and no tilling or cultivation. The result is a thrilling, visceral expression of the mineral-rich soil and extremely low-yielding ancient vine intensity.
Shiraz grapes here experience the full ripening power of the bright Southern Hemisphere sun, while continual cool breezes mitigate temperatures in the vineyard, resulting in massive opulence cut with vibrant acidity. In 2013, plentiful winter rains set up the vines perfectly, leading into a dry, hot spring and summer. A heat spike three days before picking pushed ripening and concentration, leading to wines characterized by powerful tannins and richness. For the price, this has “must-buy” written all over it.
Matt Deller MW
Master of Wine
Chief Wine Officer, Wine Access