Friday, December 01, 2006

d'Arn That's Good!

Please forgive the cheesy title. Sometimes I can't help myself.

I have plenty of love for the wines of Australia. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for some of the high-alcohol, fruit bomb shirazes that hail from Down Under. Piping Shrike and Wishing Tree are two of my favorites.

However, as with California, there are plenty of industrialized, character-less wines that fill up the Australian section of wine stores everywhere. There are times when I pass over Aussie wines because they can be somewhat predictable.

One Australian winery that never lets me down is d’Arenberg. The quality and character of their wines always seems to shine through. Among the larger producers, they seem to be marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Another reason I like d’Arenberg is that they produce a wide range of wines from the cheap to the not-so-cheap. If you have read previous posts, you’ll know which end of that range I’m buying from.

Which brings me to the subject for today: 'The Stump Jump'. This is d’Arenberg’s value entry in the “GSM” category. Australian growers have had great success with some of the Rhone varietals, and the grenache-shiraz-mourvèdre combination is a popular blend in the McLaren Vale, where d’Arenberg is located.

I won’t bludgeon you with the minutia of d’Arenberg’s winemaking techniques, but their Web site is a goldmine of history and information about the winery. They treat their grapes and the winemaking process with great respect and it shows in their wines.

I’ve had ‘The Stump Jump’ before, but when I took my first swirl-and-sip from the glass last night I was reminded of just how good it is. Its flavor is full of black cherry and plum with some earthy/smoky notes and a bit of white pepper. It’s also balanced and not at all heavy or cloying.

At roughly $8 a bottle, it’s an Australian wine that has a permanent spot in my wine rack. The vintage we enjoyed was a 2004, but I happen to know there’s a bottle of 2005 with a new screw cap enclosure on its way to my wine rack as I write this.

I’m confident it will live up to its predecessors.

1 comment:

el jefe said...

Apologies for not seeing this sooner... I'm a big fan of d'A. too, my faves being the Derelict Vineyard Grenache and the Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viognier. Both are very earthy and complicated, and if you've never had an S-V you'll be amazed by the fragrance... They make wines a lot like ours, or we make wines a lot like theirs, or whatever... (In fact, we'll be bottling an S-V called "Sir Ron Yeay" early next year I'm pretty excited about.) I'll be looking for that Stump!

thanks! - j