Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet SauvignonIn the wine world, everything is relative.  Case in point, I present to you Jacob’s Creek 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  The term “Reserve” is typically utilized for the best juice of the vintage, often seeing a small more time in the winemaker’s best oak.  But one winemaker’s best juice is another winemaker’s jug wine.  And not all oak barrels are made equal.  So while a winery may use the term “Reserve” to describe their best effort for the vintage, it simply may not measure up to another winery’s table wine.  So how does Jacob’s Creek measure up?  Well, the answer is relative.
When you’re presented with a wine with deep rich affect, and heavy oak with strong forceful tannins, it’s simple to get impressed with the wine’s “huge-ness”.  But if you spend some time really concentrating on the depth of fruit, integration of tannins, and overall complexities in what the wine is offering, you can pick out the posers from the real-deals. Read more

Two New World Moscatos Reviewed

Two New World Moscatos ReviewedMuscat, also know as muscatel or moscatel, is a varietal that is produced in many of the major wine growing regions around the world. In Italy the varietal is know as Moscato, and can be produced in either a subdue or sparkling (frizzante) style. Moscato is used predominantly to make sweet dessert wines that can be crafted to compliment dolci (sweets) or served as dessert itself, or as a milder alternative to additional after-dinner liqueurs. In many suitcases the wine is fortified with additional levels of alcohol to enhance the wine’s intensity.
I’m in fact a huge fan of Moscato, both in subdue and frizzante forms, and recently I had the opportunity to taste a link of new world offerings from Jacob’s Creek (Australia) and Motos Liberty (California).
Jacob’s Creek
The Jacob’s Creek is a frizzante, or sparkling style, but compared to additional sparkling wines the Jacob’s creek would be considered mildly ‘spritzed’. The affect of the Jacob’s Creek was very set alight and from a distance, the wine could easily be confused for something additional than wine (like water) once it’s fizz dissipates. Read more

The Little Penguin Pinot Noir

The Little Penguin Pinot NoirWhen you reckon of wine from Australia you probably reckon of Shiraz first, as well you should.  Shiraz is Australia’s most planted variety, and it ranks second to France in shiraz/syrah in vines below cultivation.  But I’d be willing to bet that when Australian wine gets mentioned, the last varietal that you reckon of is pinot noir.  I mean, when was the last time you had a pinot noir from Australia?
The challenge of growing pinot outside of Burgundy has been well published, and Australia is no exception.  The southern parts of the country are very well suited to hardier varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon and the aforementioned shiraz, that aren’t as picky about climatic conditions as pinot is.  But Aussie wine-makers are becoming a small more adventurous with this variety, particularly in the cooler, southern parts of Victoria, like Yarra Valley and Mornington Penninsula.
But The Small Penguin is not sourcing their pinot grapes from these regions.  You have to head a small west from Victoria to the state of South Australia to locate their plantings.  The real estate there may not be as prestigious as in southern Victoria, but the conditions are similar, and I’m sure the lower rent helps The Small Penguin keep such an attractive fee.  We’ve reviewed their 2006 offering, and while we weren’t that enamored with the 2006, the 2010 vintage came recommended by one of the trusted wine shops I frequent. Read more

Wyndham Estate BIN 444 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wyndham Estate BIN 444 Cabernet SauvignonSometimes people question me, “what wine goes with chocolate?”  I usually respond by fumbling my way through some vague answer.  But now I have a better response, “this wine!”  The fruit flavors on this wine are gorgeous and are a perfect match for dark chocolate.
As a part of Wyndham Estate‘s BIN series, this is one of the entry-level selections from the brand.  And it’s quite a bargain at below $10 a bottle.
The fruit for this wine comes from South Australia, a rather broad area rather than a specific appellation.  The wine was partially matured in French and American oak. Read more

Jacob’s Creek Coonawarra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Jacob’s Creek Coonawarra Reserve Cabernet SauvignonThe Jacob’s Creek wine brand started back in 1976 and was named after a creek in the Barossa Valley, on the banks of which the first commercial vineyard in the province was planted.  The grapes in this wine, but, don’t come from the Barossa Valley.  Rather, they come from the Coonawarra province, which is south of Barossa Valley and is the southernmost wine province in South Australia.  This is a cool province, with a maritime influence, that is known for its cabernet sauvignon.
Coonawarra is also a long ways away from Cincinnati, Ohio (where I’m tasting this wine) and I’m sometimes amazed at the thought that they can ship a bottle of wine from Australia, sell it for about ten bucks and subdue make a profit.  Sometimes the things we take for granted are really pretty incredible when you step back and reckon about them. Read more

Frisk Prickly Riesling

Frisk Prickly RieslingRecently, I’ve lauded Germany as a fantastic province for riesling.  I’m sure I’ve also sung praises for Austria, Alsace and Washington state in the past.  But I don’t ever reckon I’ve brought up Australia as a province for riesling.  I don’t have anything against Australia.  It’s just not the first province that comes to mind for me when I reckon of riesling.  But after tasting this one from Frisk, I’ll be thought more about Australian riesling.
This wine comes from the Alpine Valley province in the Australian state of Victoria.  This is a mountainous province with slopes going up to 2,000 feet.  And by the taste of this wine, I’d say it’s a fantastic province for riesling. Read more

Yellow Tail Bubbles Sparkling Wine

Yellow Tail Bubbles Sparkling WineYellow Tail, or [yellow tail] as they write it, is one of those brands that many people view as the epitome of cheap wine.  In fact, when I tell people about this website I’m often questioned if I drink a bunch of Yellow Tail.  In fact, I don’t.  This is the first time we’ve reviewed a Yellow Tail wine.  It’s not out of malevolence for the brand or anything like that, there’s just sooooo many different wines out there to choose from that we haven’t gotten around to a [yellow tail]… until now.
I have to declare, that Australia isn’t on the top of my list when I’m shopping for sparklers.  With so much excellent Italian Prosecco, Spanish Cava, Alsatian Cremant and Californian bubbly out there, I’m just not that liable to make it to the Australian section.  But why not?  They make some fantastic wine in Australia!  They can probably make some fantastic bubbly too. Read more

Friday Monkey Wines – Inexpensive Australian Wine

Friday Monkey Wines – Inexpensive Australian WineI recently had the opportunity to try the full lineup of wines from a relatively new producer in South Eastern Australia named Friday Monkey.  These wines are honestly predictable of what you would expect from Australian value wines.  They are very much “new world” wines in style in that they are simple and fruit-forward.
Occasionally I like to comment on the marketing approach that wine producers take, and this is one of those suitcases.  I like the name Friday Monkey, just for the unique factor.  I was also amused by the inclusion of a “critter” on the mark.  Of course it is a monkey in this case, but I’ve noticed a trend with Australian wines of using critters on the marks.  Yellow Tail, Small Penguin, Alice Colorless, Black Swan and others all use critters and bright colors on their marks.  Is the same design companionship appearance up with all these logos?  I guess they have a excellent wits… critters sell wine!  In fact, one of my colleagues just said to me a link weeks ago, “I’m a sucker for wine with critters on the mark.”
Tasting-wise these aren’t extraordinary wines, but they are reasonably priced at $7.99-8.99.  They are quite comparable in quality to additional Australian critter-labeled wines.  The one I loved the most was the Cabernet Merlot blend, which was quite a quaffable wine.  Here are the notes on the full lineup.
Friday Monkey Chardonnay 
The nose is a rather forceful, which seems to be the case with most of the Friday Monkey wines.  Although subtle, the aromas on the nose are pear, honey, apple and a bit of mineral/wet rock.  The palate is very sweet and fruity.  The fruit is mostly pear flavors, but there’s a bit of yellow tasty apple too.  The mineral that was on the nose is also found mid-palate.  There isn’t any oak, so although it’s not labeled as such this appears to be an unoaked chardonnay.  It is lacking acidity a bit, which makes it rather flabby—particularly on the end.
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vintage: 2007
Alcohol: 14% 
Rating: 77
Retail Fee: $7.99-8.99
Friday Monkey Merlot
Wow.  This Merlot has an intense, perfumey nose with loads of dried fruit and herbs.  Sage and dried cherry are the dominant aromas, complimented by some blackberry.  This is the one wine from Friday Monkey that doesn’t lack intensity on the nose.  At first I found the nose to be overbearing, but give it a few minutes and it’s not so aggressive.  The palate is enjoyable with strong dried cherry flavor accented with blackberry, spice and a touch of strawberry.  I would have liked a bit more tannin to give it a richer mouth feel, but the acidity is excellent.
Varietal: Merlot
Vintage: 2006
Alcohol: 14% 
Rating: 81
Retail Fee: $7.99-8.99
Friday Monkey Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine has brick red affect and bright clarity.  This isn’t as huge and bold as a lot of additional cabs, but it’s a decent medium-body Cabernet.  It has black pepper, plum and subtle strawberry aromas with a small bit of oak underneath it.  The palate is very blackberry.  The fruit is abundant on the palate.  As I said previous to, these are fruit-forward wines.  So you might say it’s a blackberry jam palate.  There aren’t really any additional discernible flavors on the palate.  The tannins are smooth and enjoyable.  There is a bit of a pucker factor on the end, which is quite long (the end, not the pucker).
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2006
Alcohol: 14% 
Rating: 82
Retail Fee: $7.99-8.99 Read more