26 September 2023

Last laugh will be on the crackpots

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Reviewed by John Rozentals.

I’m sure that quite a few wine-industry people and outsiders look at d’Arry and Chester Osborne with amusement and regard them as crackpots because they fill cow horns with manure, bury them for fermentation, then spread the resulting mix into the soil of their vineyards.

Chester and D’Arry Osborne … the last laugh is definitely on them.

And because they insist on using such age-old winemaking methods as basket-pressing and foot-stomping of ferments.

Well, the last laugh certainly belongs to Chester and d’Arry, because they have created some of the world’s best vineyards and are producing some truly great wines under their many, slightly eccentric-sounding labels.

They are firm believers in sustainability and very much put their efforts where the mouths are.

Not that they’re against modern ideas. You only have to look at the revolutionary new ‘Rubik’s Cube’ restaurant towering above their McLaren Vale v (ines to see that.

But it’s definitely a case of fresh idea where they work, not for the sake of something called progress.

I was fortunate enough to try a range of the latest d’Arenberg Icon reds recently and can report on wines with classic features but a distinctly modern elegance. Once again, Chester has proven himself the consummate winemaker.


D’Arenberg 2015 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon ($70): Named for the road that runs parallel with the Osbornes’ best cabernet vineyard. This is classic warm-climate cabernet — violets and cassis dominate the fruit flavours but beneath there’s gorgeous French oak. As ever, great cabernet goes with great lamb.

D’Arenberg 2013 The Dead Arm Shiraz ($70): Spice and dark fruits leap to the fore in this full-bodied beauty. This is an alluring dry red which will cellar for a long time. I’m tempted to suggest matching the wine with good steak, but really it has the power and complexity to do justice to just about any hearty red-meat dish. Vegetarians should seek out a solid mushroom-based casserole.


D’Arenberg 2015 The Ironstone Pressings Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre ($70): For me, this will always be the classic d’Arenberg red — richly flavoured, robust and keenly balanced. It’s simply a delight to drink already but has the structure to reward many, many years of cellaring.

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