Sunday, February 21, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $19 (375ml), $30 (750ml)
- Cork
- 17.5%alc

One of Australia's more historic wines is d'Arenberg's Vintage Fortified (first declared vintage 1928). An industry defining wine back in its day, its mere presence in that classically labelled bottle transports me to a time when fortified wines were the elixir of the masses. For a change chambourcin (32%) has been added to the 2005, which should be a familiar grape to fans of d'Arenberg's popular Peppermint Paddock sparkling red.

Dark crimson red, this young Australian fortified opens to a rich, meaty bouquet of currants and plum/berry concentrate, with dark chocolate undertones lifted by notes of spice, tar and cleanly restrained spirit. The charmingly composed palate is very smooth and essence-like, with sweetened regional shiraz flavours marked by a faint herbal edge and a gentle dusting of dry tannin. It finishes very long and particularly fine for the style, with a consistent balance evident from front to back palate, and a climax pushing through rich berry fruit flavours which are eventually overawed by a lingering impression of sensational, organic bitter dark chocolate.

ü+ d'Arenberg's 2005 is a totally convincing and delicious young fortified, which drinks very well right now in an absurdly rich and spirity shiraz-style, but it certainly contains all the components to develop into something special with patience. Top value. Throw some in the cellar, you won't be disappointed. Drink to 2025.
94 points

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