Friday, November 6, 2009

Jacob's Creek

Recently, we were asked by a PR firm to taste and rate 3 red wines and 3 white wines from the South Australian winery Jacob's Creek. Previously, I posted a story about another South Australian winery, Henry's Drive, that incorporated the region's history into the winery's name and into the name of each wine produced. Well, Jacob's Creek has it's own fascinating history. In 1837, a Bavarian immigrant by the name of Johann Gramp arrived in South Australia after 4 months at sea and travelling nearly 12,000 miles. In 1847, he purchased land and planted his first vines which came from cuttings from Germany and in 1850 made his first wine. This was the very first commercial winery in the Barossa Valley. The small winery where he made his first wine still exists today at a site known as the Jacob's Creek Heritage Vineyard. The current day Jacob's Creek winery planted its first vines in 1973 and produced it's first vintage in 1976.

We started with the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir. This ruby red colored wine started off with a tight nose with a small amount of cherries peeking through. Had I tasted this blindly, I would have thought it was strawberry Kool-Aid. It was very light with a sweetness of strawberries and some cherries. There was no structure to the body and had no signs of any tannins or oak from the aging process. I don't think any additional aging will save this wine. We were both very disappointed in this Reserve. It cannot compete with the Oregon or California Pinot Noirs. The 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir retails for $14.

Next, we tasted the 2008 Pinot Grigio. This light to medium bodied straw yellow wine started with fresh aromas of green apples, pear, honey (I eat every day!) and some citrus. On the palate, the fruit flavors of pear and lemon were crisp and refreshing. It is a semi-dry wine with not alot of acidity but well balanced for a nice finish. The 2008 Pinot Grigio was an enjoyable wine and would be a good choice if you are looking to pair with seafood, light cheeses, even some white meats. You might want to try this for Thanksgiving with the turkey. The 2008 Pinot Grigio is a great value wine that retails for $8. This was one of our favorites from this 6 bottle tasting. I am generally not a Pinot Grigio fan but this is a must try.

Third, we tasted the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay. This bright golden colored wine opened with overbearing nutty oak and buttery aromas. There was some lemon trying to escape. Reminded me of a butter cream cookie. On the palate, it was dry with gentle sweetness of melon, peach and a hint of pineapple. However, there was no finish to it and it left a bad after taste. Again, we were disappointed with this Chardonnay. For $14, we would pass on this next time.

The fourth of six wines we tasted was the 2006 Reserve Shiraz. This deep purple wine started off with a full black fruit aroma with some oakiness and spices. On the palate, this full-bodied wine was jammy with lots of plums, blackberries, and raisins along with some licorice and pepper. This opened up as the evening went on. The tannins were pretty smooth. It would pair nicely with the typical grilled meats, stews, or blue cheeses. I would also serve this with spicy Mexican (or New Mexico) foods or with some southern cajun dishes. A few more years of aging and this should really be nice. The 2006 Reserve Shiraz retails for $14.

Next to last was the 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This garnet colored full-bodied wine was a bit overpowering of oak. There was some cassis, blackberry and cedar on the nose. The taste was full of black fruit as well as some chocolate and a hint of vegetables on the back. Once again, there was a little too much oak for my preference and the tannins were a bit chewy. It was aged with French and American oak for 18-20 months. You might want to cellar this reserve as well. We probably used more for cooking than drinking. You could pair this with a rich steak, BBQ sauces, goulash, and possibly some spicy Italian red sauces. This was aged for nearly two years before bottling. We would rate this in the low to maybe mid 80 point range. The 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $14.

And finally, the 2008 Reserve Riesling. This greenish-yellow Riesling was the other favorite in our house. The citrus and flowery aromas were perfectly balanced along with fresh citrus flavors following through on the palate. There was some minerality and a little green apple flavors to finish it off. It had good acidity with a wonderful finish. Not the sweet Rieslings you might think about for a dessert wine. It could pair with the usual suspects of a white wine but I would definitely pair this with Asian or Thai dishes. My wife makes a great Morrocan chili that I will pair this with next time. The 2008 Reserve Riesling retails for $14. Another must try. Since this posting, the 2008 was given a 90 point rating by Wine Spectator and also ranked #73 in the Top Wines of 2009.

Overall, there were some disappointments and some unexpected winners. These were our first bottles from Jacob's Creek and we will likely go back and try some older vintages to see how they have aged. The next time you are out buying wine and not sure what to try, pick up some Jacob's Creek. Would love to hear your feedback.

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