From McLaren Vale in South Australia, this wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Roussanne. D’arenberg makes a number of botrytis wine within their immense portfolio; from different years the varietal composition of this wine changes; this year a blend of Northern Rhone varieties. I commented on the 2015 edition in November 2016.
There are difficulties making this wine style; keeping botrytis away from other grapes, minimising errant “non-noble” rots; the fragility of grapes that easily fall from the vine; the vastly reduced yields, the difficulties pressing and fermenting. And for all the travails, it’s an under-appreciated style.
This wine has an extraordinary sugar content; around 300 g/l. The colour is a deep copper/amber; with this degree of botrytis, varietal character is largely extinguished; there are scents of orange liqueur, stewed apricot, red apple and peppermint. The palate is very sustained and syrupy, laden with cumquat and orange marmalade flavours, with some golden honey, and typical botrytis dust and spice. There is still freshness, and enough acidity to assist with the extraordinary level of sweetness.
However, the wine would have been more exuberant, with greater interplay between fruit and development characters a few years ago.
Drink up, 90 points (with a higher score if opened several years earlier)
McLaren Vale Shiraz, bottle number 17580. The very dry cork disintegrated despite my best efforts with massed gadgetry, and some filtering was required to remove fine sediment.
The wines is still a deep ruby colour with trivial bricking; aromas include red liquorice, black cherry, blackberry and mocha, with sweet spice notes present too. The palate is rich, sweet and fresh with greater blackberry fruit impact; the brandy spirit is deliciously balanced, the liquorice materialises with the blackberry, spices and light mocha, and there is a prolonged, pleasingly drying finish.
At 21 years, this wine has reached an excellent drinking plateau.
93 points, and drink to 2030.
First thing to notice is the bottle – 500ml but a narrow, towering cylinder that is difficult to store; nice label, nice name. Its 100% grenache from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Thankfully its cork has performed its function. It certainly needed decanting, as there was a pile of sediment.
Its not the deepest of colours; a dark ruby seems to fit; its bouquet is full of liquorice, rose petal and eucalypt. There is sweet but balanced spirit, and its eerily reminiscent of some old Reynella VPs – minus the extreme blackberry, and of course they were Shiraz based. It’s a slightly malty milk chocolate style with the sweetness and relative lack of tannins holding it back. Cleverly constructed, and an excellent “welcome back” to Australia.
Drink to 2025, score 87 points