Monday, May 12, 2008

D'Arenberg McLaren Vale The Old Vines Shiraz, 1995

In D'Arenberg's wide array of unusually named cuvees, this wine is now known as The Foot Bolt Shiraz. It comes from very old, gnarly vines, some more than 100 years old, in McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide. They are tree-like vines similar to those you see in Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and, according to the label, they produce low yields of small Shiraz (Syrah) grapes that are very concentrated in color and flavor.

My first impression of this wine is that it needs more time. There are some amber tones to the deep, dark color, but the bouquet takes nearly an hour to really open up. When it does, there is much to give: ripe red and black berries, black plums, cassis. Deep and brooding. Flavors are also a bit shy in coming forth, but there's good ripeness and lots of interest on the mid-palate and finish. This is a good wine now, and I suspect that it will continue to develop complexity for at least five to seven more years.

My interest in wine started in 1976-77 when my wife and I spent a year near her family in the Melbourne area. This D'Arenberg Old Vines Shiraz seems to me typical of the Australian wines I enjoyed during that period--old vines, old barrels, dense colors and big flavors. Australian wines have changed quite a bit since that time, but I'm still partial to the old style, of which this wine is a good example.

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