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Barossa Rosés big and small


Whitey compares big-time Pernod-Ricard/Jacob’s Creek Barossa pink to something totally nuts, local and tiny.

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa Barosé 2016
($15; 12.7% alcohol; screw cap)

Colonel Light named the Barossa after Barrosa – red hill, or the hill of roses – an Andalusian town of that name where his mate Lord Lynedoch thrashed a bigger French force for Wellington in 1811. The big bare hill behind Jacob’s Creek winery at Rowland Flat provided the likeness. Light could see it from his 1837 camp at Lyndoch, which is another misspelling. So it’s nice to see this huge French company acknowledging its thorough flogging by the Poms with this Barossa Barosé business.

As it’s made from Grenache, like great Barossa rosés from the past – remember Pat Tocaciu’s lovely Tollana in the tear-drop bottle? – I’d expect this to mirror their traditional raspberry freshness if not their tendency to droll icy-pole/raspberry gum simplicity. Instead, the wine smells more grapy in a vegetal way: it reminds me of the aroma of petioles, the leaf stalks that mechanical harvesters pick along with the bunches. Goulburn Valley Marsanne often smells like this. Behind that brazen statement lingers the rosy bit: there is some raspberry there and an enticing insinuation of Woodie’s lemonade. Think of Woodie’s with a dash of rosewater and a maraschino cherry on the little umbrella.

As a sort of counterpoint to the label claim of “Dry & Crisp”, it’s nothing like Woodie’s extreme sugar but the wine seems very slightly sweet. Maybe the label will subliminally convince the sugarbabes it is indeed dry, as dry is the fashion again … beats me. It’s clean and simple and yes, just tannic enough to make the lips pucker as she goes. But there’s sufficient viscosity to hold all this together, even with the sort of brutal chill I know it’s gonna get in most joints.

While the marketing documents advise me to drink this with goat’s cheese soufflé or sweet chocolate bavarois, I’m sure it will do just as well with chook nuggets or a ham and pineapple pizza with a real thick doughy base.

Jacob’s Creek Le Petit ‘Dry & Crisp’ Rosé 2016
($17; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap)

Befitting the French-style package and nomenclature, this does indeed smell dry. It has that edgy hessian sack prickle about it with some glacé cherries. I’ve had Provence Mourvèdre rosés – with bouillabaisse in Marseille – that smell like this.

Pity they didn’t have such a smart protective seal as this screw cap. But sometimes I suspect those espadrilled folks from where the paella hits the Spanish coast right round to the Costa Brava actually prefer their rosés with a little cork taint and some brett yeast spoilage: it makes them seem even drier than they are and somehow adds a tidy counterpoint to all that heady saffron.

After a minute or 10 in the glass, this blend of Pinot, Grenache and Mataro grows an alluring aroma of flesh, like slightly musky strawberry pith. Sometimes I reckon it smells like a big pavlova covered in strawberries and whipped cream.

That flesh slinks from aroma to texture as you drink and the whole adventure draws to a dry, neatly focused finish, with less obvious sweetness, more assertive acidity and more all-round finesse than the Barossa Barosé.

While the manufacturer suggests drinking this with pavlova (!) or crisp pork belly, I’d have it, just cool, with smoked kippers on toasted rye with capers, a sprig of fennell, and sour cream. Sunday morning, the Velvets on the player, silk dressing gown, my cigar ash burning holes in this freshly-ironed copy of The Financial Times … smug in the thought that the damn drink cost a lot less than the smoke.

David Franz Western Barossa Red Rosé 2015
($22; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap)

The elder surviving Lehmann male maintains the more madcap genes of his crazy, brilliant father and the fierce intellect of his maven mother then goddam magnifies them x10 with this extraordinarily obsessive alcoholic device: it’s a blend of 108 varieties.

It smells like canteloupe skin. It smells of framboise and fresh rose hip gel, dusted with confectioner’s sugar. It smells of tamarillo and persimmon. A puff of musk. And I reckon I get a good whiff of Linke’s bacon speck and then there’s the thing about raw tuna with a pip of wasabi … it’s utterly, confoundingly tantalising.

Take a schluck. It’s fat and fluffy, like in Female Trouble … imagine Dawn Davenport hanging the biggest hissy over getting fluffy pink wedgies instead of cha cha heels on Jesus’ birthday, and finally realising they suit her better.

The texture, the weight, the feel of it is big and reassuring. But fluffy. It feels like a big cuddly slightly tannic red.

And it tastes like the elegant dilution of the syrup left last time I poached paradise pears in Pinot and sauternes with a clove or two of blue garlic, black peppercorns, some of them other cloves, runt Scottish bonnet chillies and cherry tomatoes.

It is a friggin’ marvel. It is the most alarmingly, comfortingly, slightly sweatily human wine. It is a new strand of Lehmann being perfectly assertive. By their fruits ye shall know them, eh?

[Before you go any further, a quiet word of advice: if you feel inclined to read David’s writings on the label he designed, screen-printed, glued up, licked and stuck on, best do it before you snap the cap. It’ll be too late if you don’t wait.]

And food? As PL would gurgle through his smoke on the weighbridge, “Give us a bit more tongue, Whitey”.

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