The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 97 of 124

Chester Osborn: The Art of Being Different Whether it's the curly golden locks draped on his cranium, the stuffed animals he uses as educational props, the boomerangs he gives out as swag or the colorful shirts, pants and underwear he wears, it's hard not to spot Aussie winemaker Chester Osborne in a massive crowd. Celebrating 100 years of family winemaking at d'Arenberg, his family's legendary estate property in McLaren Vale in South Australia, Osborn's enthusiasm exemplifies the playful side of Hospice du Rhône. The first portion of the d'Arenberg property was purchased by Osborn's grandfather in 1911, and the original winery was built in 1927. Through the years, the masterful skills of the family developed. Today, the winery makes 60 separate wines and works with fruit from 428 separate vineyards. As winemaker John Alban says of Osborn, "He suffers from AAD— Attention Abundance Disorder." Highlights from the tasting included: the d'Arenberg 2009 Derelict Vineyard Grenache, a nice approachable style made with old bush vine material; the d'Arenberg 2008 Wild Pixie, an intriguing blend of Shiraz and Roussanne; the d'Arenberg 2008 The Ironstone Pressings, a jammy, zesty Grenache-Shriaz-Mourvèdre blend Osborne has been making since 1980; and a newer addition to the portfolio, the d'Arenberg 2009 The Eight Iron Shiraz, a vineyard desig- nate with a pretty nose and flavors of black fruits, coffee and mineral. "The more wines I make, the more fun I have," said Osborne. "There's always enough to go around and I've always got something for everyone to enjoy!" Priorat and Beyond: Why Spain (Still) Rocks! The wines of Spain are currently on fire in the market- place. It's a trend that was started in Priorat, an isolated region in hills of Catalonia known for its rugged hillsides, stone terraces and ancient vineyards of Garnacha and Cariñena (Carignan). Until the late 1980s, only ten percent of the wines made in the region were bottled. But that changed for good when maverick winemakers such as René Barbier, Alvaro Palacios and Daphne Glorian-Solomon arrived on the scene. Today, the innovative winemakers in the region use improved production facilities and French oak barrels to produce flavorful blends made with fruit from the ancient vines and sometimes newer plantings of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The end result is an admirable lineup of dense wines packed with fresh aromas, deep juicy flavors, mineral and layers of rustic spice. At the seminar, one of the delicious examples from Priorat was the Bodegas Mas Alta 2009 La Creu Alta, a powerful old-vine blend of 60% Cariñena and 40% Garnacha with concentrated flavors of black plum, cherry, licorice, lavender and dark chocolate. Another special selection was the Clos Erasmus 2009 Clos I Terrasses, a Christophe Baron of Washington State's Cayuse Winery. silky smooth blend of Grenache and Syrah imported by Eric Solomon Selections. Another resurgent Spanish wine growing region is Méntrida, a subzone of the province of Toledo. The main grape grown in the region is Garnacha, and one of the influential winemakers of the region is Daniel Jiménez-Landi of Bodegas Jimenez-Landi. A purist devoted to biodynamic farming techniques, Jiménez-Landi makes a series of extraordinary wines with fruit from two separate villages within the appellation. The 2010 Araulfas Grenache, a wine made with 60-year-old vines, is packed with flavors of bright red fruits, mineral and layers of spice. Elsewhere in Spain, another important variety that deserves attention is Monastrell (known elsewhere as Mourvèdre). Today, there are 50,000 hectares of the variety grown in Spain, a sharp comparison to just 10,000 hectares grown in France, America and Australia combined. "Voila, Voila, Washington": The Return of the Bionic Frog There is no doubt that French winemaker Christophe Baron is a man on a mission in the Walla Walla Valley, the pristine winegrowing region on the eastern border between Washington and Oregon. Born and raised in the Champagne region of France, Baron originally came to America to work harvest at Adelsheim Winery in Willamette Valley. While visiting a friend in Walla Walla in 1996, Baron discovered an old orchard with rare cobblestone soil. The uncanny similarity between the soils and climate reminded him of the ones he had seen in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other parts of the Rhône Valley. After securing the property later that year, Baron started planting the first of five separate vineyards and established Cayuse Vineyards, his winery named after the local Native june 2012 / the tasting panel / 97

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