Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Great Decanting Experiment – Wine #8

For the next wine let’s go back to South Australia, to McLaren Vale and d’Arenberg’s The Dead Arm Shiraz. I’ve been able to source half bottles from 2002, one of the stellar vintages in recent years. The Dead Arm is partially barrel fermented before further maturation in American and French oak for around 20-22 months. It’s a blockbuster Shiraz style that has only been in bottle for a little over three years. Surely it needs some air, or does it?

Wine #8 2002 d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($30.99USD, 375ml), 14.5% alcohol.
One bottle was splash decanted and the other left unopen; both in the cellar at 56 degree F. After 2 hours and 15 minutes the second bottle was opened and the two wines poured randomly into three marked opaque glasses while I was out of the room.

Glass A: A potpourri of stewed fruits over very ripe blueberry, toffee, coffee and olives. Full bodied, with big, firm tannins. Not a lot of flavor carry but well structured.

Glass B: As for glass A, not quite as open but more of a toasted aroma. Very much like glass A on the palate, but with more evident acidity.

Glass C: Quite like glass B in not being as open as glass A and again there is the presence of a toasted aroma. Palate as for glass B.

My opinion: A is from the bottle and B and C are from the decanter.
Reality: A is from the bottle and B and C are from the decanter.

Conclusion: While I’ve tasted better wines from the 2002 vintage, The Dead Arm is still really a baby and needs its rest; at least another 5 years. But if you do open a bottle what it doesn’t need is to sit in a decanter waiting for you to drink it. But then perhaps you prefer toasted, smoky notes that detract from more attractive fruit aromas? Do you think that d'Arenberg know something when they say of The Dead Arm Serve after decanting as an older wine.

Score: Wines tested 8, Decanters 0, Non-decanters 2.

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