The Vintage: Sufficient winter rains set up the vines well with good canopies. December and most of January were very cool with only three days above 30°C until late in the month. There was a string of days above 40°C in late January, most Shiraz vines were going through veraison at this time and there was little negative impact. The mild weather that followed ensured that ripening was stress free and grapes showed good levels of natural acidity and balanced tannins.
The Winemaking: Walking the vineyard rows and tasting grapes, Chester Osborn classifies and determines the ideal picking time for each individual vineyard. Small batches are passed through a gentle open roller crusher with some berries remaining whole and then transferred to five-tonne headed-down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending.
Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. When tannin extraction is just right, the wine is basket pressed. It’s then transferred to a mixture of new and used French and older American oak barriques and large casks to complete primary and secondary fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees to keep the wine fresh and also reduces the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending with no fining or filtering. Chester and the winemaking team undertake an extensive barrel tasting process to determine the final blend.
The Characteristics: The nose is full of the fresh berries and spice synonymous with McLaren Vale, with a slight eucalypt lift. There is real interest in the secondary characters of sarsaparilla, cinnamon and clove which are expressed more completely as the wine opens up. The palate is mouth coating and plush with red and purple fruits mingling with orange peel and earth. There is a welcomed kick of five spice on the back palate. The lifted and fine fruit tannins provide structure and pull the wine together nicely.
The Footbolt Shiraz has proven to cellar well for at least a decade. The minimal intervention methods of d’Arenberg sometimes result in a harmless deposit in or adhering to the bottle. Decanting prior to serving is recommended to get the most enjoyment from this wine.