By James Atkinson
Chester Osborn’s exhaustive exploration of d’Arenberg’s unique McLaren Vale vineyards through the Amazing Sites series will evolve the family’s flagship Shiraz, The Dead Arm, in years to come, the winemaker says.
There are 15 starkly contrasting single vineyard Shiraz wines – with colourful names like The Vociperate Dipsomaniac (pictured left) – included in the 2012 Amazing Sites release, which Osborn showcased at a lunch in Sydney last week.
He said the project has been invaluable for his winemaking, providing new information about the terroir of the different parcels of fruit in The Dead Arm.
Some vineyards, such as The Other Side – first bottled as an Amazing Sites wine in 2010 – would never have made it into The Dead Arm had Osborn not learnt their potential as a result of the project.
“I wouldn’t have put it into the Dead Arm because it was too tannic and mean, whereas now I wouldn’t hesitate, because I know what it turns into,” he said.
“The 2010 now looks wonderful, the fruit’s coming out of it and it’s got a great concentration of chocolatey rich flavours.”
Chester Osborn in Sydney last week
He said this intelligence will ultimately make the Dead Arm (pictured right) more tannic in its youth but with a greater ageing capacity than before.
“It’ll be even more tannic because I’ve been reluctant to put those [parcels] in because I don’t think the wine will come around,” he said.
“So now I might put it in and it’ll be a really tannic wine but it’ll be a better wine down the track.”
Osborn said the opportunity for this painstaking exploration of terroir is a huge advantage afforded only to family-owned wineries.
“You are there the whole time, for all those years. You’ve only got one go at that vineyard every year, and every year’s different, so you’ve got to try and piece that together,” he said.
“I know enormous amounts now that I didn’t earlier, and even more now that I’m doing this as well,” he said of Amazing Sites.
There are just 100 to 200 dozen released of each of the Amazing Sites wines, about half of which will be tightly held by d'Arenberg.
“I don’t want to sell them all, I want to keep them for re-release when they’re old,” Osborn said.