D’Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale Australia is famous for making Shiraz. In fact, one of their wines – their Dead Arm Shiraz – is considered by many to be part of Australia’s “Holy Trinity” of Shiraz, along with Penfold’s Grange and Henschke ‘s Hill of Grace.
Made exclusively from vines that have been affected by the fungal disease Eutypa dieback, the wine is amazingly concentrated and powerful. Eutypa dieback, or “Dead Arm”, is an infection that suddenly kills grapevine shoots or limbs. While most vineyards would rip out these vines, which produce a pittance of fruit, D’Arenberg hand-harvests the grapes from the diseased vines. The grape clusters, though small in number, are enormously flavorful, as the vine has been concentrating all of it’s remaining energy into the few clusters on it’s surviving shoots.
This isn’t about the Dead Arm Shiraz though. While I highly recommend the wine, it’s price tag ($65-$80 in the store, $100+ in a restaurant) doesn’t exactly make it a great daily drinker. Instead, D’Arenberg’s less famous Stump Jump Shiraz is my Wine of the Week, as the value it delivers for the money is incredible.
Named after the “Stump Jump” plow, so named for it’s ability to plow over roots, stumps and rocks without getting stuck, D’Arenberg’s Stump Jump line is it’s entry level offering, with price points of $11-$13 in the store and $20-$28 in a restaurant. While you might not expect much from a $11 bottle of wine, the Stump Jump Shiraz outperforms Shiraz more than twice it’s price.
The wine starts out with a deep ruby color. On the nose, the wine is full of cherry and blackberry fruits, which continue on the palate. What sets this Shiraz apart is the intensity of this ripe fruit, which is just as intense on the finish as when the wine first hits your tongue. The finish has a mineral-graphite edge that balances the fruit nicely. In all, it drinks far, far, above it’s price point.
The Wine: D’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz
Appellation: McLaren Vale Australia
Composition: 100% Shiraz
Production: 5,000 cases imported
Where you can find it in Fairbanks: By the glass at Gambardella’s Pasta Bella, By the bottle at Lavelle’s Bistro, Off-Sale at Gold Hill and Gavora’s Fine Wine.
If you find you like the D’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz, D’Arenberg’s Stump Jump Red is also a fantastic buy. A blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mouvedre, it can be found by-the-bottle at the Pump House, and Off-sale at Gold Hill and Gavora’s Fine Wines.