Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two

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D'arenberg 2005 The Dead Arm

About a year ago I was in Chicago, and had an amazing dinner at Fogo de Chao there (and keep meaning to come to the Beverly Hills location!). One of the high points of the meal was a half-bottle of the best shiraz i'd ever had, an Australian called "The Dead Arm" - so named because blight had killed part of the grape vine, concentrating flavor and teroir in the surviving one. The result was an incredible, robust, nuanced and potent shiraz that rolled around on the palate like thunder in June. I remembered it, and for the last year, have tried to track down more. Imagine my surprise when, coming up short at every one of the more reputable wine shops in town, I finally found a bottle at Costco! Costco had a bin full of the D'arenberg 2005 "The Dead Arm" from the McLaren vale - just the bottle I remembered. It was even reasonably priced at $49, less than I'd seen it at places that claimed to have it, but were inevitably out of stock.

With much joy, then, I got a bottle, and saved it for a special occasion. Happily, the occasion presented itself last night, celebrating a friend's new job. I took it to Mao's Kitchen, and opened it, and was immediately bowled over by its qualities. The color is a deep, deep inky purple, so thick that the legs nearly stain the glass red, it's deeper than German philosophy, it's richer than Croesus, it's as thick as Queen Latifah. This is a seriouis wine. It's 14.5% alcohol by volume, too - so a little goes a long way. it's nose is considerable - the kind of robust aroma that whooshes right into one's sinuses, and suffuses lungs and head with an aura of rich, thick redness. Like red-velvet cake for your lungs!

But it's the taste that is amazing. I tasted raspberry jam, cassis, plum and hint of toffee, but all without being even a little bit sweet. A remarkable achievement for a wine with such prominent berry flavors, but it's quite dry in a full-bodied and robust way that rewards careful attention as well as a casual sip. The finishing note is pleasantly tobacco, smooth pepper and chocolate. It's hard to describe because it's so complex, but the complexity is so smoothly rolled together that each little discovery was a delight. Even now, almost a day later, I'm imagining new things that I tasted in this wine - and if a day later I'm still tasting its best qualities in my mind, if not in my mouth - it tells me that this a higly memorable, immensely rewarding wine. Can't recommend it high enough - best bottle I've had in a very long time. And one of the best nights I've had in a very long time, too!

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