2014 d'Arenberg "The Dead Arm" Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia (Elsewhere $55)

SKU #1379552 95 points James Halliday

 Part hand, part machine-harvested, crushed and destemmed, 2-3 weeks on skins in an open headed down fermenter, matured for 20 months in French oak (8% new) and a dab of American oak. Deep crimson-purple; ultra full-bodied and densely packed with the darkest black fruits, licorice, 70% cacao dark chocolate and ripe tannins. Will live forever.  (2/2017)

94 points Wine & Spirits

 Still primary, this wine’s wild blueberry and basil scents give it the feel of summer. Chester Osborne’s top selection of old-vine shiraz, this vintage of Dead Arm smells earthy and tastes dynamic, its black fruit density matching its gripping mineral intensity. Fresh, brisk and open, this has detail in its tannins that will continue to feed complexity into the wine as it ages.  (10/2018)

93 points Decanter

 Inviting aromas of spicy plum and bright red fruit lead to a peaty, earthy palate with much darker bramble and chocolate notes. Sooty, irony minerality and balancing acidity, with firm acidity and grippy tannins from 18 months' ageing in a mix of old French and US oak barriques. Structured, complex and delicious now, but will benefit from ageing. From its first vintage in 1994, The Dead Arm has become one of Australia's most collectable wines, its name coming from the Eutypa Lata disease that causes one arm of the vine to die off, but leaving the other half with concentrated and intense grapes. For this vintage, 15% of the blend comes from vines that are 25 years old or younger, 50% from those that are about 50 years old, and the remaining 35% from ancient, gnarled vines that are up to 129 years old. (TG) Drinking Window 2018 - 2030  (7/2018)

92 points James Suckling

 A chewy and rich red with tannic and berry character. Dark chocolate and walnut undertones. Medium to full body, bright acidity and a clean and flavorful finish. Drink now but better in 2019 for the tannins to resolve. Screw cap.  (7/2017)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2014 The Dead Arm Shiraz offers expressive blueberry, blackberry and licorice notes with hints of Provence herbs, tapenade, garrigue and cracked black pepper. Medium to full-bodied, the palate provided a taut backbone of firm, grainy tannins and refreshing acidity packed with black fruit and earthy flavor layers, finishing long. (LPB) 92+  (8/2017)

K&L Notes

The name "Dead Arm" comes from the vine being affected by Eutypa. When this happens, one arm of the vine slowly dies and falls off, hence the name "Dead Arm". The one arm of the vine that remains produces fruit of greater concentration and intensity since all the vine's energy can be channeled into the single arm. It is uncommon to see wine made from these vines as many are torn out and replanted. This is a rare and supremely delicious take on Shiraz. (Stefanie Juelsgaard, K&L Australia Buyer) *94 pts Wine front* The d’Arenberg wine range is giddying in its scope now, so much so that I don’t know what is meant to be flagship, so in my mind, and I guess many, this, Dead Arm, is The One. Good year for red wines from The Vale. (MB)

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By: Kaj Stromer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/18/2018 | Send Email
I used to call this wine the “poor mans” Grange. But there is nothing poverty about this wine as it totally stands up to the best of its kind. The Dead Arm is the kind of Shiraz that others tried to duplicate but seldom could. The wine possesses all the rich bold, dark fruit you come to expect from Aussie Shiraz but it's also perfectly balanced with a finesse the likes of which only truly great wines possess. You can approach this wine now but it will slumber soundly in your cellar for years to come if you chose. In which case, please call me when you open it. This is a real achievement.

By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/17/2018 | Send Email
Any winery that takes the time and man power to foot tread every one of their wines, definitely takes winemaking seriously. Named after the Eutypa fungus that affects some vineyards, the 'Dead Arm' refers to one half of the vine that rots and falls off, while the fruit that lives on the remaining arm grows more concentrated and complex. That effect is very evident in this wine, as it showcases unbelievable power and structure. This is not one of the Shiraz fruit-bombs you may associate with Australia. This fruit comes from cooler-site McLaren Vale and the lift and tannin in the wine certainly showcase it's terroir. D'Arenberg is a highly sought after winery in Australia and after tasting this wine, it's not hard to see why.

By: Keith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/17/2018 | Send Email
I had almost forgotten what a pleasure the Dead Arm from d'Arenberg is. Years ago, this was my go to wine from Australia with its generous fruit and savory spices. I remember buying a six pack of the 2002 and drinking it over the subsequent years and loving it every time. This new vintage reminds me of that past one with its deep flavors of blueberry and Maraska cherries with a touch of minty goodness. This ripeness persists but good focus and balance keep it on point. I'm equally glad to see the price has not reached the stratosphere either but given the pedigree and consistent quality, this wine from another region could've fetched twice the price. Wonderful!

By: Trey Beffa | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/17/2018 | Send Email
It has been awhile since I tasted a bottle of Shiraz. The “Dead Arm” was structured much like a Cabernet and did not remind me of the many Shiraz wines I tasted 15 years ago. This wine has quite a bit of grip. It is a sturdy and firm wine that is packed with a core of blackberry fruit, anise, mocha and earth. It should be a wine to drink with a good beef dish and develop well in a cellar over the next 10 years!

By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/16/2018 | Send Email
The Dead Arm is always a terrific expression of Shiraz, and this 2014 is no exception. Aromas of blackerries, tar, clove and other baking spices are forward, yet nuanced, deep and layered. On the palate, the fruit is textbook, higher toned McLaren Vale shiraz, with a freshness and structural backbone that makes it so tasty now, but promises a long future ahead for those who prefer to age it.

Additional Information:



- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- While it is true that the greatest strides in Australian winemaking have come in the last 30 years or so, commercial viticulture began as early as the 1820s and has developed uninterrupted ever since. The majority of the great wine regions are in the southeastern area of the continent, including Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Coonawarra in South Australia; Yarra Yarra Valley and Pyrenees in Victoria; and the Upper and Lower Hunter Valleys in New South Wales. Many of the wines from Southeastern Australia are based on Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and various blends including Grenache and Mourvedre. In Western Australia, along the Margaret River, great strides are being made with Pinot Noir as well as Bordeaux-styled reds. There are also many world-class releases of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the land Down Under, where Riesling also enjoys international acclaim. While many equate Aussie wines with “value,” there are more than a few extremely rare and pricey options, which never fail to earn the highest ratings from wine publications and critics throughout the world.

South Australia

Specific Appellation:

McLaren Vale