01 September 2011

d'Arenberg 2003 Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Well my name's John Lee Pettimore. Same as my daddy and his daddy before.

Ok. Not really. But since today is International Cabernet Day, I've been tucking into some tasty '03 d'Arenberg Coppermine Road Cab Sauv. I've also been listening to Copperhead Road on repeat all day.

Anyway, d'Arenberg's answer to John Lee Pettimore is its fourth generation owner and chief winemaker, Chester d'Arenberg Osborn. Same as his daddy, and his daddy, and his daddy before.

Chester is an interesting character. He's got hippy hair and quirky 1980's dress-sense, but even when he's asleep, he knows more about making wine than the rest of us all rolled up together and squeezed through his basket press. He goes particularly gaga for Grenache, and if you ever get a chance to read or listen to his passionate sermons on the topic, well you should.

He sends out more than 40 styles of wine from his McLaren Vale lair, with eccentrically evocative names such as The Love Grass Shiraz, The Lucky Lizard Chardy, The Feral Fox Pinot, The Broken Fishplate SB, The Laughing Magpie (ie Kookaburra) SV, and, seriously, The Cenosilicaphobic Cat Sagrantino.

Cenosilicaphobia is, incidentally, and quite literally, the condition of fearing an empty glass. Sounds frightening, doesn't it? I wonder if, in turn, there's a word for those with a fear of cenosilicaphobia.

Anyway, since it's Cabernet Day, I'd probably better start talking about the big C. No, not Chester. The Cab Sav. And more specifically, the Coppermine Road Cab Sav.

To start with, the name - it's a bit boring by comparison to Chester's other offerings, but is eponymous with the road which borders the d'Arenberg home block.

In the glass, it's a dark, glowing beast of wine. It prowls around, flexing its muscles and managing to look far more solid than liquid.

And the nose is massive. Really massive. It hits the nostril with a dominating combination of cherry ripe and coffee shop - the sweet whiff lures you in like a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope, and then the dusty, hi-octane savouriness rumbles your jungle and smashes you fair in the face with a colossal right hook.

But while the sight and smell threaten to completely overwhelm your tastebuds with a brutal campaign of shock and awe, what actually follows is a lesson in good manners and subtlety. Yes, there's an intensely concentrated wave of tasty fruit and smokey BBQ sauce, but the long, dry, muscular, cabernet tannins are well-toned and fine, rather than being jacked up on 'roids and pumping iron.

In short, it's bloody good.

I should say that I also tried the 2007 model earlier in the evening - all the same juicy flavour is there for sure, but it's still very full of testosterone and adrenaline and needs a bit longer to soften up. Buy it now by all means, but send it to the cellar to relax for a few more years.

Cabernet really is one of those wines where the divide between a good and a bad drink is very obvious. Pick a good one, softened nicely by age, and you'll be as happy as a dog with three balls. Pick a bad one, and you'll be pulling faces like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

I've learned a thing or two from Chester, don't you know - it's hard to stay away from Coppermine Road.

Rating: 9.25
Drink with: Steve Earle
Price: $60


  1. damn you.... Copperhead Road is now repeating in my head !!!

    Darrenburg do produce some good wines but they are massive !

    If you get dsown there also stop by Samuels Gorge and Joseph (Primo Estate) wines

  2. It's been in my head all week - not that it's a bad thing in my book!

    Looking forward to a trip down that way next year.