Saturday, October 17, 2009
Brand Loyalty: The Wines of d'Arenberg
The question students always ask at wine classes we give at 60 Minute University is: What wine brands are worth trying?
Wine brands you'll prefer are, like all wine enjoyment, a matter of personal taste. Once you get to know a winery or brand that resonates with your palate and pocketbook, reliable wine pleasure will be yours anytime. Sure, it's fun to try exotic bottlings or wines from small producers, but knowing a go-to brand you like and can readily find saves time and money when shopping or planning a get-together.
One example of consistency across the brand is d'Arenberg. The South Australian winery offers wine lovers an exceptionally deep and wide wine portfolio spanning value to premium pricing. The multi-generational winery is situated south of Adelaide in McLaren Vale, a region blessed by a Mediterranean climate. d'Arenberg offers remarkable range in its varietal wines and blends. They also make bubblies and dessert wines, which Aussies call stickies.
Iconic McLaren Vale Shiraz are powerful, structured wines with deep purple color and intense flavors of dark-berried fruit, spice and anywhere from a hint to a dollop of chocolate-raspberry. With a rounded, smooth mouthfeel and soft yet chewy tannins, these wines have food appeal that goes beyond steak to less muscular dishes such as fish prepared with savory or bold sauces.
You'll find d'Arenberg wines at local wine shops and on wine lists around town. Palm Desert's Pacifica offers The Footbolt 2005 Shiraz with their flavorful seafood choices. With a whiff of violet on the nose, the wine showed lively earthiness layered by silky tannins and food-friendly acidity. For a splurge, other fine restaurants in town carry d'Arenberg's flagship old-vines Shiraz, The Dead Arm. Look for the rolling red carpet diagonal red stripe and coat of arms on the label.
Like other McLaren Vale wineries, d'Arenberg also produces wines made from other grapes associated with France's Rhône Valley, including Grenache, Viognier and Rousanne. Hmm, wonder if we can try them all?
We're scoping out two d'Arenberg wines for holiday dinner: Hermit Crab 2008 Viognier-Rousanne blend and The Custodian 2006 made from 100% Grenache. Once we try them, we'll report back with prices and where you can find them.
Here are a few other easy-to-find and reliable brands you may want to try.
Washington: Chateau St. Michelle, Hogue
Oregon: A to Z Wineworks, Eyrie
California: Byron, Sterling
Chile: Viña Montes, Viña Cono Sur
France: Vignerons de Caractère, Perrin & Fils
To read more, check out Wine & Spirits Magazine 45 top value brands of the year, from the June 2009 print edition. Happy tasting!