This week we have a lovely little bonbon of a wine for you in the Stump Jump 2008 Shiraz from Chester Osborn's d'Arenberg winery in South Australia's McLaren Vale region. Given that Wine Spectator scored this unctuous red a 90 and slotted it at No. 82 on its 2009 Top 100 Wines list, it's hard to believe it goes for $10 or less at wine-savvy markets and wine shops.
This shiraz, named after the stump-jumping plow that brought the wine region under cultivation, captured us immediately with its brambly aroma in the glass, showcasing lots of raspberry and blackberry with a tiny little vanilla top note. That ripe fruit persists on the tongue but a swirl over the palate reveals chocolate cherry, too, and a hint of astringent black tea. The wine's well-developed soft tannins save it from sweetness and add buoyancy and structure all the way through a medium long finish. It feels velvety in the mouth but is in no way flabby.
The esteemed d'Arenberg house has been making wine since 1912 and now offers a broad range of wines from super premium varietals down through its everyday wines, affectionately nicknamed the Stumpies. Among those wines both red and white, the 2008 shiraz stands out. The price says drink with pizza at Saturday lunch (which would, in fact, be just swell), but the wine itself says give me a challenge and I'll stand up to it. We drank it with a warm roasted beet and goat cheese salad and liked the combo very much. Next time, though, we'll pair it confidently with something like an earthy mushroom risotto.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance specializing in food, wine and travel.