d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2021

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d’Arenberg’s Olive Grove Chardonnay is so named because of the olive trees found in McLaren Vale. Does that mean we find hermit crabs scuttling up and down the rows of vines in the region? Not quite, although perhaps once, had vines been around in past millennia. These days, their presence is limited to the calcareous remains of crustaceans like the hermit crab, which form the limestone found locally. 

Much has been made of what a cracking vintage 2021 is, but what is interesting is that the team at d’Arenberg found it “more delicate and floral” than usual for their ‘Hermit Crab’, but they also noted the tropical characters it brought forth. And this can certainly be seen in the wine. Small batches of grapes were gently crushed and transferred to stainless steel basket presses (which I am sure are effective but are somewhat lacking when it comes to the image of a romantic craft – still, in the end, all that matters is what ends up in the bottle). 4% native yeasts and 14% of the Viognier fermented in older French Oak, followed by eight months in oak. 100% from McLaren Vale, the blend is 61% Viognier and 39% Marsanne. 

A deep yellow/gold in colour, there is an array of flavours all combining in harmony – the tropical notes, with apricot kernels and nuts, certainly almonds. Stonefruits and florals, with the passionfruit and pineapple. Lovely lifted aromatics. There is good acidity carrying the wine, decent length and all is well balanced. Peaches appear on the palate. Full of flavour, this is quite delicious. Drink it over the next 12 months. Seriously good value.

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