The Story Behind The Name
Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often vines affected are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an ‘arm’ of the vine is slowly reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.
The nose is very aromatic, floral and youthful. There is a fascinating amount of intensity that draws you back. The lavender floral notes along with plum and blackberries are the most pronounced while the enigmatic beauty of this wine lies in the next layer of extremely alluring pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and hint of five spice.
The opulent palate is rich and dense with staggering concentration. Crushed ants, rhubarb, and deep earth add to the complexity. The chewy tannins are abundant and balanced by the fruit power. Building through the palate the tannins provide for a long, vibrant, savoury and spicy finish.
The Dead Arm Shiraz 2007 manages to balance focus and complexity superbly . The structure is muscular and the fruit powerful, yet it maintains a pretty elegance which is allowed to flourish with deft use of oak.
The Cellaring Potential
In youth The Dead Arm is restrained. It will start to show more fruit after five years in the bottle with secondary aged characters starting to develop after that. As an older wine leather, tobacco, mushroom and earth aromas have a presence alongside chocolate and spice characters. With such great balance this wine is expected to age for up to 20 years if cellared in the right conditions.
Due to drought conditions not seen for decades, 2007 was the earliest start to vintage in McLaren Vale.
Overall winter rainfalls were a third of what is considered normal. The dry conditions and cold spring temperatures leading up to the growing season affected the vines fruiting and canopy development, with very short shoot length. This resulted in reduced bunch and berry size and ensured high tannins.
Just as vintage was to commence McLaren Vale experienced 50mm of rain, which caused some problems with fruit splitting but essentially saved the vintage. The rain provided enough ground moisture in the final stages for the fruit to ripen in a stress free state. This resulted in grapes having concentrated flavours at lower levels of beaume ripeness with excellent levels of acidity.
Yields were down approximately fifty percent for most of the premium dry grown vineyards that contribute to The Dead Arm Shiraz . This reduced yield is a contributing factor to the concentration of flavours and great tannin structure seen in 2007. Both factors that will aid in the longevity of this great Shiraz.
Walking the vineyard rows and tasting grapes, Chester Osborn classifies and determines the ideal picking time for each individual vineyard. Small batches are crushed in the Demoisy open-mouthed, rubber toothed crusher and then transferred to five-tonne headed-down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending.
Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. When tannin extraction is just right the wine is basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques to complete primary and secondary fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending.
Chester and the winemaking team undertake an extensive barrel tasting process to determine the final blend. The Dead Arm Shiraz does not undertake fining or filtration prior to bottling.