Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jacob's Creek Cabernet, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir

A quickie. I was sent some samples of Jacob's Creek wines to taste earlier this year and finally got around to opening during our hot summer here in Oregon. Without too much fluff, here are the tasting notes and my impressions on each of the three wines I was sent.

2010 Jacob's Creek Reserve Pinot Noir Adelaide Hills: I wasn't a big fan of this one, but some might enjoy it. Smells a bit like eucalyptus mixed with cherry cough drops. Some dusty earth manifests too, but it's definitely muted. The pinot character clearly shines through in this, with bright cherries and cranberries, mixing with herbaceous flavors. As the evening progressed, I re-tasted this several more times and it seemed to just fall apart. The cough syrup notes take over and it becomes disjointed on the palate. Pinot Noir is  hard to do on the cheap though. Buyer beware. 13.6% abv. $10 nationally.

2010 Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra: Smells dusty, dry, like the Outback. Notes of jalapeño pepper, green herb, dusty trail, and some red fruit. Drying on the palate, and rather soft for a young cabernet. Tart red fruits tend to dominate, but they're somewhat simple. I think this needs a cheeseburger to truly shine. After tasting this several more times through the evening, I concluded that it's a wine on the cusp of being tasty and fun, but it just doesn't get there. At the price point, you can find better.  13.9% abv. $10 nationally.

2010 Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz Barossa: Smokey, Barossa-y, spicy shiraz. I like this, especially for the price. It's got a really solid balance between ripe fruit - think plums and black cherry - and drying, astringent tannin. Definitely a wine to have with big foods like barbecued ribs. Easy to find nationally, well made, and very much a wine to drink year-round. Recommended. 14.1% abv. $10 nationally.

If you bat .300 or greater during a baseball career, you're pretty much guaranteed a Hall of Fame selection. Jacob's Creek did just that with these three wines. The shiraz is clearly the superior wine of the bunch and worth your consideration. I can't put my recommendation on the other two though, because while they may be inexpensive and easy to find, they're simply not wines I want you to drink.

These wines were samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

Monday, September 2, 2013

My First Night in Bordeaux, Chateau de Bel

Once the crew was suitably refreshed and rejuvenated, we piled back into the Mercedes van and sped off in the lazy afternoon light to Chateau de Bel, another old house located right on the banks of the river. We were met by Anne and Olivier Cazenave, owners of the Chateau. Also, we met Aurelie Dainieras of Chateau Penin. If those Chateaux sound familiar, it's because I've written about their wines before, from Planet Bordeaux virtual tastings.

The tidal bore races up the river, but not in this shot!
More snacks, both sweet and savory, and wine were had on a little dock perched upon the river. Olivier and I discussed surfing the tidal bore as it raced upriver each evening. One day I will return to Bordeaux and do just that. If they let me back in, that is.

Anyways. The dinner was prepped and served inside the house, so we all made our way inside, through doorways that seemed to have been designed for shorter people than modern-sized humans. That really gives you a sense the age of a place.

During the conversation, amid the laughter and smiles, the skies were beginning a slow churn. Eventually this would culminate in a blustery storm overnight. I'm getting ahead of myself though. We return to the house, at night, crowded into a dimly let room full of warmth and the smell of food. Bloggers and vignerons sitting side by side, discussing food and wine. The setting should sound just about perfect because it was. I recall a little of the food, it was beef, salad, and bread. The wines were red, white, and pink. Everything was delicious.

Suddenly my French started improving and my glass seemed to empty itself. Coincidence? Looking back, here's to hoping I didn't make too much of an ass of myself.

Various accounts of the French as arrogant and intolerant jerks seem to mainly stem from people who don't make an attempt at speaking the language. I felt our hosts were delighted that I even tried, and while my accent was solid, my lack of vocabulary was a glaring issue, at least in my mind.

One particularly memorable bottle was Oliviers non-vintage cabernet franc. He blends a few years together and if I recall, sells it around Bordeaux. Unfortunately we do not see it here in the United States. It was an incredibly good bottle of wine. This wine paired quite beautifully with the steaks we were enjoying.

Fast forward back out to that Mercedes van and the trip to our hotel for the night. By now the wind was whipping around like crazy, and every so often a few seconds of rain would beat down from the skies. We tired, jet-lagged bloggers quickly retrieved room keys and retired for what was hoped would be a cozy, restful night. I'm proud of myself for hydrating before bed, as the wakeup call came around 7am. Something about these blogger trips and early mornings. I don't get it!

Beau Carufel