AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 29
Name of wine estate: d’Arenberg
Wine region: McLaren Vale
Standout points: The wonderfully eccentric d’Arenberg Cube; some of Australia’s oldest vines, dating back to 1850
Winemaker: Chester Osborn
Wine style: Focus on full-bodied New World reds
Welcome to the d’Arenberg Cube, Chester Osborn’s unofficial Wonka Wine Factory: 14 years in the making and mad as a box of frogs – as befits this eccentric figurehead of Aussie winemaking. This five-floor Rubik’s Cube of wine-related wonders forms the centrepiece of the d’Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale. It features, among many other wonderful oddities, a fully automated ‘natural winemaker’, a Wonka-esque inhalation room, a 3D food printer and a cellar door where you can taste the d’Arenberg range in the dizzying atmosphere of Chester’s imagination, with 360-degree views of the region. There’s also a superb restaurant within the Cube – one of three on the estate – where you can enjoy a degustation menu to remember.
The one with the red stripe
The d’Arenberg property has been in the Osborn family for more than 100 years – since Joseph Osborn sold his stable of prize-winning racehorses to purchase the property. With its distinctive red stripe, d’Arenberg has grown to become one of the most recognised wine brands in Australia. With his tousled blond locks and invariable loud shirts, fourth-generation winemaker and biodynamic convert Chester took over the reins as chief winemaker in 1984.
And the wines?
Quite right. It’s not all psychedelic shirts: d’Arenberg produces a portfolio of wines which is as excellent as it is extensive. Full-bodied Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache are the cornerstones (d’Arenberg boasts Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache vines dating back to 1850), while the ‘icon’ wines – The Dead Arm Shiraz, The Coppermine Road and The Ironstone Pressings – are all wines very much worthy of your attention.
Beyond the Cube…
Visitors also have an inexhaustible array of tastings and wine experiences to choose from. Highlights include a vertical tasting of d’Arenberg’s flagship Dead Arm Shiraz and a masterclass in which you can learn how to identify different grape varieties. Helicopter and biplane blending and degustation experiences are also available; there’s even an on-site Salvador Dali sculpture exhibition!