This wine has always been for me the closest Shiraz to what I consider *classic* Rhone, whether Sonoma Coast or Santa Barbara or France. There’s just something about the way Australia does the majority of these wines which you can *spot* instantly. I’m not saying I don’t LIKE them–I’m a huge fan–there’s just typically a chubby, almost *burnt* red-dust characteristic to the fruit, a roundness and softness to the tannin, an un-resolved evolution of briar and spice causing an asterisk. But here: HERE we have something able to play on that field, able for inclusion in the parameters of *normal* Syrah, able to stand tall in a line-up without IMMEDIATELY going “Australia”.

Dense, clear ruby: purple at the core, drifting out nicely to transparent garnet with a pink rim. Chalky and thick in the nose, an abrasiveness of spirit taunting the rich fruit, prodding it to manifest its depth and concentration, never letting it go chubby or middle-shelf-forward. A velvet cat’s tongue of mineral and briar slides easily over the top, letting the spice churn in from underneath, fat slabs of cherry and blackberry firmly sandwiched between. Deep air plows up wet loam, compost and petrichor, the whole package a cool, calm manifestation of gorgeous Syrah, and at 5, just starting to settle down.

And then you taste it. There’s nothing about this which would immediately think, “20$ Aussie Shiraz”. It flat-out doesn’t play on that field. Not even Kalimna or St. Henri approach this sort of No. Rhone brilliance. Raw and untethered, the fruit is a thin, direct application of grainy berry seeds and cool-water lucidity on your long-festering Shiraz wounds. It’s like tasting the blackness of a moonless night, breathing air so thick with calm and quiet, every node alerts to tiny sparkling probes. The briar never runs savory sagebrush or hot chaparral: it stays tied to oozing green bark on young saplings, the screaming whine of oak and pine through chipper, Chinese 5-spice a dull thump far in the distance. Acid only allows limited closed-eye reflection on the clean pomegranate and blueberry, it wedges its foot firmly in the door, opening it to shrieking tannin which–try as it may–can never quash the fruit.

I can’t stress enough how beautiful this wine is and what a ridiculous cellar-candidate it is. The fact it is showing like THIS at 5 guarantees another 20 years easy. Is this my favorite d’Arenberg? Dear Dog DON’T make me choose. OK fine: yes it is.

2015 D’ARENBERG ‘The Laughing Magpie’ Shiraz/Viog 94/6 McLaren Vale Australia 14.5

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