Words: Henry Yuen
Jacob’s Creek, a name perhaps not yet familiar to novice drinkers, but their wines have been sold in BC wine shops for a long time. With over 150 years of wine-making history in Australia, their passion for crafting better wines and their uncompromising strive for constant improvement never wanes. They now have vineyards in Barossa, Coonawarra and Adeliade Hills, the heartlands of Australian wine regions. Their wines are represented by different tiers: Classic, Reserve and Heritage label. Today, Jacob’s Creek produces a wide range of wines and export all over the world. It is estimated over one million glasses of Jacob’s Creek wines are served everyday all over the world! While their sparklings, whites and reds are all enjoyable but the most outstanding one is their Shiraz from Barossa Valley, a much sought after wine we are talking about here.
Home to the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, Barossa Valley has limestone and sandy loam soil that allows deeper roots to establish. Days are hot, dry with long summer sunshine providing adequate ripening time for the grapes to mature fully. Evenings are cool with relatively strong winds enabling the vines to rest a bit thus preserving the vibrant acidity. In the old days Barossa Shiraz were big, full-bodied and a little over ripe resulting in the juice used mostly for blending and for the production of fortified wines. Modern day advancement in viticulture practices evidently solidifies the premium quality of the grapes, transitioning Barossa Valley into one of the iconic wine regions in Australia.
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz is a 2014 full-bodied wine with 14.8% alcohol content. Intense red berry, dark plum and a tease of spices, with unexpected smoothness and lengthy complexity; to put away a few bottles in the cellar is not a bad idea at all!
But what is “Double Barrel” you might ask.
To give the Shiraz that added texture, Jacob's Creek's winemakers put extra effort in crafting the wine. Besides aging in regular French and American oak, the wine is cradled in used American white oak Scotch whisky barrels after blending for further aging. The result of this extra treatment is velvety tannins and perfectly-balanced fruit flavour, elevating the Shiraz to another level of euphoria. It’s a new project and a big wine no doubt. To me, it’s a "wow" wine because of its price point. In terms of the calibre of quality and drinking pleasure, this Shiraz definitely over delivers at $17.99. The inquisitive mind may wonder, "How is it possible?". Well, let's go back to the economics of established wineries.
Wineries established long time ago had majority of their capital costs and land costs amortized long ago, thus enabling them to sell their wines at a lower margin but still make a decent profit. Simply put, consumers find the wines more wallet-friendly and more often than not, pick their wines off the store shelves. A win-win scenario only established wineries with sound operational schemes could achieve. Newer wineries don’t have the same luxury when land nowadays is so expensive, as a result, they have to price their wine higher in order to cover the investment cost.
In any case, the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz, great with barbequed ribs and steaks, is certainly a steal when one can savour its layered character now with satisfaction or cellar it for another 5 to 10 years and let it bottle age to reach its ultimate prime.