Christie Kiley on January 12, 2015 1 Comment The holidays are over and there always seems to be a bit of a slump getting yourself out of holiday mode into the normal routine. All the rich food and drink seems to linger long beyond the New Year. There might even still be some leftover! If you happen to be living in the northern hemisphere, we know you guys are having some intense weather at this moment with bone-chilling temperatures and snow. Sometimes I am ok with this. It is the perfect excuse to stay indoors, enjoy some comfort food and have a hearty glass of full-bodied red wine. You know, one you can practically chew on, like the d’Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings. You can travel the world and look for big, bold reds, but no one does them quite like the Aussies do. D’Arenberg of McLaren Vale began in 1912, when Joseph Osborn purchase twenty-five hectares of the already established Milton Vineyards. A few years later, Joseph’s son Francis decided that medical school was not for him and opted for a life in the vineyards and purchased an additional 78 hectares. The winery was not finished until 1928 and up until that point, they sold their fruit to the local wineries. When they began making wine it was mainly table wine and fortified styles to meet the growing demand for Australian wines in Europe at the time. A Small Family History Another generation later in 1943, Francis junior returned from school at only 16 in order to help his father in his ailing health. He was known in school as ‘d’Arry’ and by 1957, he took over the business himself and two years later decided to release his own label d’Arenburg to honor his mother Frances Helena d’Arenberg. Resources were small and the beginnings of the label were modest, regardless, the wine gained recognition among judges winning many trophies at the Royal Melbourse Wine Show. By the early 1970, d’Arenburg had gained cult wine status. Now the fourth generation, Chester d’Arenberg Osborn is the Chief Winemaker. It only seemed natural as he started at an early age helping his father in the vineyards and in the winery on breaks from school. He later toured many Australian and European winemaking regions. Today, he rund the d’Arenburg winery and vineyards with the same passion as the three previous generations did before him cultivating the vineyards in a natural manner and creating small-batch wines that help make the label a popular wine in its humble beginnings. The traditional winemaking techniques are still used. Both the red and white grapes are basket-pressed and the red wines are fermented with skins submerged in open wax-lined concrete fermenters. They are even still foot-tread on and punched down during fermentation. Their wines have received such recognition that even the Queen herself gave a Medal of the Order of Australia to Chester’s father in June of 2004 for his contributions to the McLaren Vale region and the wine industry. Sixty-five vintages later, the family is still proud of what they do. The Soils Good wines begin with close attention to where the grapes are grown and how they are cared for. The label, ‘Ironstone’ is not just a fancy name, but about where the wine originates. The soils of d’Arenburg are made up of a mixture of sand and loam with some clay mixed in, but the bed rock is of shale and ironstone. The percentage of such a mixture of soils varies from one vineyard to the next depending on topography. However, the soil makes the wines of d’Arenburg hearty and robust, with depth of character. The granite and ironstone which is decomposing creates a red-brown rusty color from the iron oxide. Some of the larger pieces were even removed from the vineyards in the 1880s and have been utilized in the architecture of the buildings of the estate. The Wine The chewy blend is of 70% Grenache, 25% Shiraz and 5% Mourvedre. The GSM, as it is lovingly referred to, is exotic with a variety of warm spices; nutmeg, clove and fennel seed. Dark fruit and mature late summer berries mix in beautifully and carry the spice on the nose and on the palate with a bold, almost meaty finish of dry, dusty earth. The texture, as you might have gathered from my earlier description is full, and juicy with a full, but supple character on the finish, like a soft plum. If some cold-weather chilli is for dinner, this is the perfect pairing.