Reviews: On and off-trade brands

On and off

Two ranges of wine brands are reviewed this week: one strong in the off-trade, the other recently launched by the Geelong-based Scotchmans Hill winery for the on-trade.

It’s ironic that the more famous a brand becomes, the less welcome it is in restaurants. Unfortunate but true: it irks to pay two or three times the price a restaurant asks over the bottle shop.

Jacob’s Creek wines can suffer from the tall poppy syndrome, and the stigma of being owned by a large corporation.

Putting the ownership aside, I have admired Jacob’s Creek wines since the ’80s. Their consistency is amazing. Not all the range has pleased me, but the classic shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and riesling have always been of a high standard. The reserve range has often delighted, and I have bought it with confidence. It’s not reviewed here, but the Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 was recently awarded a trophy for best wine from a multi-regional blend at the 2017 Langhorne Creek Wine Show.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Reserve’ Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016: Sometimes it seems the hills are alive with sauvignon blanc. Fortunately, there are plenty of other varieties grown there that prevent Marlborough-like SB monoculture. This smells like SB, tastes like SB, therefore is SB. It’s an adequate SB and that is it. 90 points and there’s a lot of good wine around at $18.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Signature’ Barossa Riesling 2016: Like the SB, this smells and tastes like riesling, therefore is riesling, but there is more: a touch more depth and the hint of promise that it will develop. 91 points and maybe two more down the track. It’s around the standard riesling price at $20.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Signature’ Barossa Chardonnay 2016: At last, a nose that is not only varietal, but is not as pristine clean as the two above. Lovely chardonnay flavours snake around the mouth, with some oak creeping in here and there. It needs more time, and I’m sure a point or two will be added, but 92 points now and value at $20.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Reserve’ Limestone Coast Shiraz 2015: Clean, somewhat neutral nose. Not so varietally defined, but plenty of rich plum and blackberry pie flavour. It’s an attractive wine and worth its $18. 91 points.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Signature’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: For such a young cab, the maker has managed to keep the harshness in check. It’s broad in its flavour. There’s not a lot to harp on about, but it’s very well made and very enjoyable. 93 points and worth its $20.

Jacob’s Creek ‘Signature’ Barossa Shiraz 2015: Good, clean nose. Light textural mouthfeel for Barossa shiraz, but a good style. 93 points and an OK price at $20.

The new range from Scotchmans is aimed at the on-trade, and the prices are those that restaurants are likely to impose. Comments on price reflect the environment in which the wines are destined to be consumed.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Brut Cuvee 2016: Fresh on the nose, more apple than yeast, which is its youthfulness showing. At $30 a bottle for serving at a function, this is more than presentable, but for fine dining served by the glass I’m not so sure. 91 points. $30-$50.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Sauvignon Blanc 2015: Soft, non-aggressive nose, and soft on entry. It’s a rounded wine, one I can imagine drinking while sitting on the deck waiting for friends to arrive. I don’t see it an easy food wine. It could work with a starter, but would need to be matched; I see it working with fish in a sauce. I like its richness. It’s a point of difference from most other SB. 93 points and $30-$50.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Gris 2016: Very interesting flavours. I found them hard to pin down, and I think each sommelier will find something different in the wine. It’s got a good sour edge and the acid runs all through, making it a better wine with food than as a simple glass on its own. 91 points and $30-$50.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Chardonnay 2015: Smells like, tastes like, therefore is chardonnay. It’s rich but far from ripe. The oak is in balance. Nice acidity. This could accompany a wide range of dishes. 94 points and $30-$50.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015: Defined pinot nose; that is, slightly feral. It makes stately progress across the palate, hitting the right points on its journey. Good after-perfume. The return journey, though not long, is there and makes an impression. 93 points and $30-$50.

Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Shiraz 2014: Black fruit nose, light on entry but picks up mid-palate, showing cool fruit flavours. It has enough edge to make it an attractive food wine. 93 points and $30-$50.

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