In 1881, Joseph Rowe Osborn, joined the prospering Wine Company Thomas Hardy and Sons. Although a teetotaller he eventually became a partner and director and was very successful. While not a drinker, he did have another vice of sorts… horse racing. Amongst his stable he had a horse called Footbolt who was relatively successful and won Joseph enough prize money to be in the position to purchase some land of his own. Joseph’s son Francis (‘Frank’) Osborn was studying medicine at Melbourne University but was advised upon ill health to, “take up life on the land”. In 1912 Frank and his father purchased two sections of land in the hills just north of the townships of Gloucester and Bellevue now just known as McLaren Vale. This amounted to 64ha which included the established Milton vineyards, which was 22.5ha in size and planted in the 1890s. Frank then renamed the properties Bundarra. They immediately started to sell grapes and plant more vineyards before Frank joined the AIF in 1915. Whilst serving overseas his family continued to plant vines and upon his return he renovated and extended the original d’Arenberg homestead looking across the Vale to St Vincent’s Gulf. Joseph Osborn died on 25 May 1921 leaving full control of the business to Frank. Frank married Helena d’Arenberg in 1920, built a house, and had three children, Antoinette, Rowen and d’Arry. Helena sadly died shortly after giving birth to d’Arry and the children were raised by their father and a nurse fondly known as Mickie. In 1927, a year after Helena’s death, Frank was encouraged by friends and family to consider building a winery and producing wine as a way of getting his life back on track. The first vintage, in 1928, produced a heavy red table and fortified wine. Production increased to supply the Empire but was disrupted at the beginning of World War II. They were able to resume in 1943 when 16 year old d’Arry came home from school and helped his father, whose health was failing, to run the business. It was a demanding job for a teenager but d’Arry was equal to it and gradually took over the management of the business while ownership remained a family partnership with his sister and brother (which is how the winery is still governed today) Surrounded by peppermint gums, the block that was replanted in 1989 to Chambourcin, which is a hybrid variety, has proven itself as a successful variety for red wine production.
The heady aroma is both powerful and pretty with notes of fennel, purple flowers and blossom mingling with ripe, varietal purple fruits and black pepper. The oak is hardly evident which allows fruit and soil complexities to emerge with edges of rhubarb and red mulberry and savoury characters of dried herbs, game and spice. The palate opens with anise, black pepper, graphite and restrained dark cherries before it gives way to seductive mulberry, plum, licorice and spice. It has great power, depth and length with very vibrant, gritty fruit tannins providing immense structure. Notes of anise and spice linger for a long time after the last sip.