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d'Arenberg "The Dead Arm" Shiraz 2017
(McLaren Vale, Australia) - [BC 95] [JS 94] [DM 94] [W&S 94] [VM 94]


Regular price $75.00 Sale price $63.97 Save $11.03
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BC95 JS94 DM94 W&S94 VM94
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The Name

Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often affected vines are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an ‘arm’ of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.

The Vintage

A healthy winter and plenty of spring rains set the vines up very well. Bud burst was on time, but very cool for the first part of spring. Shoots grew to 5 or 6 inches long and then stopped for a month. Flowering was quite late, by three weeks, which meant a late start to harvest, and long, slow ripening periods. The summer rains stopped in mid-January, so disease pressure was low. It was very dry from February to April, with only a few millimetres of rain. Days were mild with a lot of cool nights, the first few weeks of April was around two degrees hotter than usual, which help that last bits of fruit to ripen. Overall, a great vintage with minimal disease pressure and above average crop levels.

The Winemaking

Small batches of grapes are gently crushed 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. The wine is then basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and used French oak barriques to complete fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees, there is no racking until final blending and no fining or filtration.

The Characteristics

This wine will have you second guessing as it skips between red fruits and lifted spice notes on the one hand to more brooding, dark, ashen, earthy aromas on the other. A sign of the vintage no doubt. The seasonal conditions are even more evident on the palate where flavour, tannin and acid are in perfect balance. There is an impressive amount of concentration in this wine but at the same time it feels somewhat more restrained compared to other more in your face, rustic Dead Arm vintages. Particularly when we look at the tannin profile which is a relatively fine example for this wine. The benefit of all of this of course is that it is immediately drinkable upon release. Don’t be fooled by its approachability however, The Dead Arm Shiraz 2017 also shows all the hall marks of a classic McLaren Vale Shiraz that will see it age gracefully for 15 plus years.

Cellaring Potential

While enjoyable in youth, this wine will reach its full potential with bottle age up to at least 20 years. The considerable structure and depth will ensure that the fruit characters will develop over time revealing more complexity and providing immense interest. This wine is best stored in an environment free of direct sunlight and with consistent temperatures between 10°C and 15°C.

Technical Data

Varietal: 100% Shiraz
Chief Winemaker: Chester Osborn
Senior Winemaker: Jack Walton
Oak Maturation: 18 months in new and used French oak barriques
Alcohol: 15%

Ratings & Reviews

97 Points, Wine of the Year - London Wine Competition 2020:
"The results of the third London Wine Competition show a resounding success for Australia as the country offers more quality for the money. The awards were introduced to represent how consumers buy wines, based not just on their quality, but what they look like on the shelf, and what value for money they offer.
This wine will have you second-guessing as it skips between red fruits and lifted spice notes on the one hand to more brooding, dark, ashen, earthy aromas on the other. A sign of the vintage no doubt. The seasonal conditions are even more evident on the palate where flavour, tannin and acid are in perfect balance. There is an impressive amount of concentration in this wine but at the same time, it feels somewhat more restrained compared to other more in your face, rustic Dead Arm vintages. Particularly when we look at the tannin profile which is a relatively fine example for this wine."

95 Points - Bob Campbell:
"Deep, dense purple/red colour, with concentrated chocolate and plum aromas and flavours, a fair degree of oak but not overdone, and a trace of reduction on the early nose. Dense, powerful, concentrated but all things in harmony. A biggie but a goodie." -HH (2/2020)

94 Points - Vinous:                                                                                                                    “Dark ruby. Black and blue fruits, candied licorice, pungent flowers and a hint of vanilla on the highly perfumed nose. Lush and broad on the palate, offering bitter cherry, cassis and blueberry flavors that turn spicier and firm up through the back half. Blends depth and energy with a sure hand and finishes impressively long and gently chewy, with slow-building tannins and resonating floral, dark berry and spice notes.” -JR (9/22)


94 Points - James Suckling:
“This is a very composed and nicely layered rendition of this top-end shiraz with aromas of cocoa, dark plums, blackberries, cinnamon, licorice and dark cherries. The palate has a very impressive build of ripe dark-fruit and chocolate flavors. Layered and expansive, it swells impressively through the finish. Smoothly resolved and gently spicy.” (5/26/20)

94 Points - Wine & Spirits:
"Only Chester Osborn would name his icon wine after a disease, in this case, eutypa dieback, caused by a wood fungus that eventually kills off a cane on an old vine, leaving a dead arm that needs to be cut away. His collection of old-vine shiraz parcels includes a lot of vines with dead arms, which then concentrate their efforts on the fruit they grow on the arms that remain. This 2017 shows that concentration in a stately, plump wine, radiating sun from its blue-black fruit and contrasting earthiness in its rooty, radish-like tannins. Supple and elegant, this has the stature to age with grace." -JG (1/21/21)

92+ Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

“Locked up tight and ungiving on the nose, d'Arenberg's 2017 The Dead Arm Shiraz is nonetheless formidably dense and concentrated on the palate. Notes of charred wood join plums, raspberries and black olives in this full-bodied effort. With its current surly disposition, it appears to require decanting or several years' sleep in a cool cellar. Giving it air helped bring out purple raspberries and softened the considerable tannins, so I'm optimistic about its future evolution.” -JC (5/14/20)