d’Arenberg The Anthropocene Epoch McLaren Vale Mencia 2016
‘Through a 105 year history, and with over 70 wines building the brand behind the red stripe, d’Arenberg dares to be different.’
So it is with d’Arenberg. Different.
In an industry of conservatism, slow evolutions, heritage and occasional blind adherence to tradition, d’Arenberg does seem like a flash of fun.
Fun, manifested in things like The Cube; the ridiculous labels; mad wine names; Chester’s snake skin jacket; Chester’s shirts; Chester in general.
All of it. Different. Occasionally odd. Occasionally glorious.
For the latest example of d’Arenberg Different, the winery have taken the plunge into Mencia, releasing one of McLaren Vale’s first example of the grape (they’re actually second after Oliver’s Taranga on the Vale Mencia train) from their own biodynamic vineyard resources.
Basket pressed, foot trodden and matured for 9 months in old oak, there’s substance to this very Aussie take on Spain’s grape-of-the-moment too.
It’s perhaps more McLaren Vale red – and indeed more d’Arenberg – than Mencia, but that’s missing the point in a way too.
This is a first release, with the skinny expression that comes from young vines and a lack of definition. But it still tastes ‘different’ enough to warrant a glass or two, with the brightness of that mulberry fruit and the unquestioned drying, unfined/unfiltered d’Arenberg punch making this more than just a statement wine (if not quite ready for high scores yet).
Different? Yes. Great? Not quite yet. Fun drink? Absolutely.
Best drinking: 2017-2023. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.2%, $29. Would I buy it? A glass for now. But I’d like to see how this goes with more vine age.