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Thursday, September 29, 2005

"The Stump Jump" for Joy?

Wine of the Week: d'Arenberg, The Stump Jump, South Australia, 2004

Varietals: Grenache (50%) / Shiraz (26%) / Mourvedre (24%)

Winemaker's Notes:

"The wine is dominated by voluminous, sweet fruit, mulberry, plum, spices, dark cherry fruits and hints of vanillin that carries right through the palate to the finish. The palate is savoury and dry, balanced with lovely fruit sweetness and subtle tannins and acidity that already make the wine a pleasure to drink now orcellar well for 2 to 5 years."

My Review:

I'm a fan of Rhone-style red wines. That is, I like wines based on these grape varietals: Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache, and Mourvedre. And, if you like value wines, I'm sure you've had a bottle or two of Shiraz/Syrah (which is sometimes blended with other "non-Rhone" varietals such as in Penfold's yummy Koononga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon). But, from time-to-time, I have a yearning for a more traditional Rhone experience: a true GSM blend (which tend to be subtler and lighter, yet no less sophisticated, in style).

That's why I was very excited to find d'Arenberg's "The Stump Jump" ($9.49 at Total Wine & More in Tampa, FL), a Rhone-style blend for the price of a typical "grocery store" Shiraz. On pouring a glass, I ogled this medium bodied wine's marvelous deep purplish color (indicative of a young, robust red). The wine's aroma (nose) was one of intense fruit tinged with a hint of spice. In the mouth, the vivid fruit flavors continued, but I found the wine to be a little astringent and somewhat unbalanced. (So much for "subtle" tannins.) The wine's reasonably lengthy finish (aftertaste) continued its fruit-filled tone, but it too seemed slightly out of harmony.

In all, d'Arenberg produced a respectable, young GSM. The wine is approachable now, but it's definitely a "with food" bottle. In fact, I'd only pair it with hearty dishes (such as Portobello mushroom "steaks"). That said, I think it would benefit from cellaring. And, bottle aging might overcome my "slightly unbalanced" impression of the wine. But, I'm forced to ask: do you really want to make a multi-year commitment to a bottle of wine that costs ten bucks? Right, neither do I.

Overall, this is a decent wine offered at a fair price. You could do far worse, but I think we can do better.

Quality/Value Ratio: $$$ (out of five $'s)


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