d’Arenberg – solving the puzzle in the vines

Chester Osborn is quite a character.

If you saw him in the corner of a pub with his long curly hair and his snakeskin jacket you might say there is the star of some eighties rock band. Can’t quite remember the group but he must have done well, he looks happy and well fed.

This Magnificent Life d'Arenberg Wines
Not a star of rock, a star of wine

If he then turned to you with a bottle covered in medals in one hand, a glass swirling with good wine in the other and, without pauses, talked passionately about the soil, the vines, the growing season, the winemaking and maturation techniques, the aromas and flavours down to the last detail, you might think you have the wrong man.

Undoubtedly Chester likes his music but he is in fact the fourth generation of a winemaking family made famous by, and adding fame to, the McLaren Vale region of South Australia.

d'Arenberg Wines This Magnificent Life
Red stripes the signal for a lovely line up of bubbles, dry and sweet

D’Arenberg with the red striped labels is a name much loved by those who know this district and its wines.

In 1912 Joseph Osborn, then a director for Thomas Hardy and Sons, sold his stable of prized horses to buy the land that now holds the vineyards and winery in the gentle hills south of Adelaide. His son Frank joined him and in 1959 his son Francis, known as d’Arry, introduced the d’Arenberg name in honour of his mother and the red stripe from his alma mater Prince Alfred College.

His son, Chester took over as chief winemaker in 1984.

d'Arenberg Wines This Magnificent Life
Chester and his dad with their venerable basket press

Today he produces a luscious range of reds, mainly from the traditional varieties the district in renowned for: shiraz, grenache, cabernet, and some less well known tempranillo, and sangiovese.

There is a very wide range of singles and blends with fabulously imaginative names. The explanations on the back labels are nearly as much fun as sharing a glass with Chester.
For his most elegant whites he brings in grapes from the high altitude Adelaide Hills, but also make some very respectable riesling and chardonnay from the home blocks. He makes sparkling wines and he makes magnificent fortified wines with lovely labels based on original artwork highlighted by the red stripe.

A busy man.

But wait, there’s more.

d'Arenberg Wines This Magnificent Life
Watch the puzzle being solved day by day

For some ten years he has been thinking about a landmark building among his grapevines. Something that reflects his family’s philosophy. The five-storey multi purpose structure containing tasting rooms, bars, restaurant and offices is now under construction with daily pictures being uploaded so he can share its progress with the world. Chester thinks winemaking is all about solving a series of interconnecting problems until you have the perfect result. He has called his icon The Cube and, appearing to float among the rows of mourvedre vines, it will be a tourist magnet for this delightful part of the world.

Have a preview of d’Arenberg’s many faceted wines and watch The Cube as it grows at www.darenberg.com.au


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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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