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A taste of the old JC


The concepts of ‘modern’ and ‘approachable’ seem limited at the giant French house in charge of the venerable Jacob’s Creek label, writes Philip White.

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It’s time for a look at what our French friends have been doing in their big Barossa winery. Pernod-Ricard is unusual in that it hangs on vast arms still extending into every shelf of the international liqueur, wines and spirits markets when other big operators are divesting themselves of such diverse approaches to the business, preferring to specialise. In which case this outfit’s an interesting one for the business writers to watch.

Which is not what we’re doing here: it’s product we’re discussing now.

First, to fill the gap in the box with the five Barossa signature wines they included the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($18; 12.6% alcohol; screw cap) which one must presume is a sort of average of what the Adelaide Hills does with this strange, highly-popular grape. It’s perfumed and grassy in an dry everlasting flower sort of way, then one gets a whiff of fresh oxalis, like soursob or rhubarb. It’s very simple to drink. In fact, it’s simply very simple all round. This is the sort of wine I can imagine a backsliding Mormon missionary starting on. I reckon I’ve seen Kevin Foley drinking it at an art gallery somewhere; can’t accurately recall. The maker recommends you drink it with garlic prawns or char-grilled squid. It would also go very well with ham and pineapple pizza.

Closer to the spirit of the Barossa is Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Riesling 2016 ($20; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap) which reminds me of the Yalumba Signature Series line of fine reds which has been going for many decades. The price indicates that a signature is of higher quality than a reserve. Given the promo Orlando/JC/P-R has sucked from Riesling over 50 or so years, one would expect this wine to rock. The PR folk call it “a bright, approachable modern Riesling” with a “flowery” nose. It does have a bit more prickle than the Savvy-B, but the flavours are so smooth and simple I’m left wondering what has happened to the genetics of Barossa Riesling to make it “modern”. What this wine does display to great effect is acid.

Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Chardonnay 2016 ($20; 12.3% alcohol; screw cap) is also recommended for being approachable and modern. It smells of oak. There’s timid dollop of unction and then a finish. On the modern approachability scale it seems to fit quite well with the other two whites.

Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Shiraz 2015 ($20; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) smells along the lines of a moody, smokehouse sort of Barossa red with a twist of blacksmith beside the blackberries and beneath the spreading mulberry. Which is not to say it’s over-loaded with tradition. To drink, it’s cheeky, juicy, youthfully simple and sweet. But no mention of “modern” or “approachable” in the blurb. Instead, it’s “essence” and “classic”.

Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($20; 14.6% alcohol; screw cap) smells a bit like the Signature Shiraz but with less obvious fruit. Remove the mulberries for starters; add blackberry leaf. The flavours could well accompany anything without intruding.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Limestone Coast Shiraz 2015 ($18; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) Like the other reds, this wine is not recommended for being approachable or modern. Neither is it Barossa fruit, which means there are only four Barossa Signatures. But the maker recommends it with wagyu beef. Wagyu beef. Talk about flexible. So you go and get your $6 million shred of wagyu beef and have it with an $18 red. Before discount. That seems pretty modern to me.

Without deterring the French, who know all about wine-making, I remind readers of bargain wines like those I constantly recommend from the likes of Torzi-Matthews/Longhop/Old Plains and last week’s Paracombe.

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