I didn’t expect to like this. Ripe Coonawarra Cabernet, finished off in an Irish whisky cask, and proudly about oak rather than fruit? It’s the antithesis of the vital terroir pieces that are my normal jam. But stepping back from esoteric wine writing land and it’s not hard to see the appeal.
As detailed in this article, you have a potent combination of glycerol (from grapes), quercotriterpenosides (from oak) and ethanol (alcohol) all enhancing the perception of sweetness. As consumers, we like sweet things and this wine has that perception nailed. It’s powerful, full-flavoured and oaky Coonawarra Cabernet (with oak tannins aplenty) in a mode that is attractive, albeit in a slight blunt way – especially with the oak tannins driving the finish.
Years ago, I spent a day wandering around Jacobs Creek and witnessed the detail of their sensory labs, and one taste of this red reminded what such a facility can do – deliver, via extensive research, wines that are going to win over focus groups (and consumers by default).
While it’s easy to then dismiss a wine like this as a concoction – rather than a piece of craftsmanship – that’s missing the point. Wine is meant to be enjoyable, and this tickles all the pleasure receptors, even though it’s not a serious premium wine.
It’s smart, market-led winemaking, rather than the more traditional, winemaker-led (or terroir-led) wine production mode. And the wine, as a result will sell. More to the point, it has flavour, it has intensity. It’s convincing full-bodied Coonawarra Cabernet.
I can bang on all day about the intricacies of a fine-boned, whole-bunch-sculpted Yarra Gamay but ultimately, most consumers don’t give a fuck, and probably won’t even like the Gamay.
But they will enjoy this Jacobs Creek red.
Would I drink it? No. But will scores of people love it to bits? Shit yes.
Best drinking: now to at least eight years. 17/20, 90/100. 14.4%, $24.99.