Don’t let preconceptions get in the way of enjoying wine

20140421_082048To me, wine is so varied and so full of subtle nuances that I could never stick to just drinking a particular wine style or wine colour even.  I’m an explorer and love to try new things.  This means I’m a little promiscuous in my wine drinking just so that I can experience all those different iddy biddy pleasures that wine delivers to me.  It’s all those little differences in wine that draw me to giving all types of wine a go.

I think I am in the minority.  Sure, real passionate wine drinkers are pretty-well like myself, they’ll give almost anything a go.  They’ve clearly joined the wine orgy, but to most people, such openness to wine is just a tad too extreme.  Wine seems to polarize most people, they either like it or they don’t, and if they do, they only like certain wine styles or certain brands of wine, and that’s it.

I am guilty though of a bit of closed mindedness and that is towards brands that have become synonymous with mass production.  These brands create an assumption in my head that everything they produce is going to be cheap, maybe a little boring, and potentially not too enjoyable.  Where as the boutique brands give me imagery of a high-class gentleman’s club (or gentleladies club) the mass-produced brands are on the street corner.  You only grab them when you’re desperate and can’t get into the high-class club (well so I’ve been told).  And I think this way of thinking is the closed-minded trap of the experienced wine lover.

20140418_185512We recently received 6 of Jacob’s Creek’s Reserve range.  World over Jacob’s Creek is known for its mass produced Aussie wines.  These wines are usually multi-region blends but the Reserve range are actually single region wines.  They are Jacob’s Creek’s showcase of a particular style from the region the Reserve wine comes from.

We’ve got a rule on this blog that we remain fun and positive.  If we don’t like something we just don’t talk about it, and there have been wines sent to us we haven’t mentioned.  That’s just how we roll.  But I’m going to break that rule just a little here so that I can put the whole blog post into context.

We recently went away with friends and I took along the Jacob’s Creek Reserves.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, they were Jacob’s Creek.  When I brought them out to the table our friends couldn’t hold back their similar thoughts.  We all composed ourselves and said “we’ve got to give them a fair go” and that we did.  To our amazement, they were actually decent wines, especially for their price range.

We commented on how well they were made.  Sure, there was an element of being produced to please “most palates” but clearly a huge effort had gone into getting them right.  I suppose that’s the thing with the big wineries, they have a pool of talent to call on if they want to craft something a little more special while still being able to produce it in quantity.  They can capitalize on the mass market and still create wine that goes above and beyond.  Even Yellowtail won one of Australia’s most prestigious wine awards in 2004, the Jimmy Watson trophy, for their 2003 Premium Cabernet.

To the wines…

20140419_215619The 2013 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes out of the Adelaide Hills.  It’s a clean crisp cool climate wine with quite a bit of flavour to back this up.  Lots of tropical fruit like passionfruit and a bit of lemony citrus too.  A good wine for quaffing on a sunny afternoon.  It went well with the fish and chips we cooked up.

The 2013 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling comes from the Barossa, and in particular, the Eden Valley, known for its good Riesling.  Although a young Riesling that may get even better over the next few years it’s very ready to drink now with lots of fruit flavours coming to the fore over the fine acid structure.  There’s lime with a honeysuckle background and a bit of apple in there too.  This one also went very well with the fish and chips, the citrus combining smoothly with the juice on the fish.

The 2013 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay is made primarily from fruit out of the Adelaide Hills.  This is a cracker of a Chardy and the crowd favourite.  I’ve since discovered that it has won numerous awards and I can see why.  It’s a full flavoured robust and quite complex chardonnay with everything well in balance.   There are stone fruits like peach and nectarine and a bit of grapefruit in there too all finished off with a decently long taste of butterscotch and some toast.  Very yum indeed.

20140420_201243The 2013 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Pinot is another one out of the Adelaide Hills.  For the price, considering Pinot can get quite exy, it’s an enjoyable everyday wine and is well-balanced.  It’s quite perfumy on the nose and has a lot of cherry and strawberry fruit characteristics with a bit of cinnamon and spice.

The 2011 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz hails from the Barossa Valley and was an enjoyable full-bodied South Australian red with quite a sweet aroma.  Decent berry flavours came to the fore with plum being dominant.  It was quite a toasty red, the oak being dominant especially on the finish, although quite soft and pleasant.

The 2012 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is straight out of the Coonawarra and doesn’t let the region down.  Although on the medium side of being full-bodied it packed an array of dark fruit flavours including blackcurrant.  There was also a hint of mint and eucalyptus, something the Coonawarra is known for producing.  It had a toasty finish and a bit of light spice at the very end.  A good wine too for the lamb we were eating, the flavours combining well.

Sure, there are no doubt better wines out there from each of the regions represented in these wines but you’d have to pay a lot more money for them.  At between $13-$20 per bottle, the Reserve range wines are fairly good value and have been made to please the general palette with enough bits in there to keep you interested.

We commented that if these wines had been served to us without labels, or in brown paper bags, we would have had no preconceptions about the brand and probably would have rated them even better than we did.  So that’s the thing, don’t let preconceptions get in the way of enjoying wine.  Explore, be promiscuous with your wine, and don’t look down on that one standing on the street corner, it may surprise you!

Author: Conrad

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77 comments

  1. I shall enjoying attempting to be promiscuous (with the wine of course). I must admit I often felt a bit of a country yokel drinking Jacob’s Creek. Now I feel free to drink twice the amount and not care!

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  2. They’ll be a lot more by the time they hit the shelves here in the U.S.S.R-Ontario state liquor monopoly outlet. The prices you quote is the range we pay for the basic mass market stuff.

    This is why I am making SECRET plans to invade Australia.

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      • Love you guys. I’ll see you on my secret, hidden, covert, and anonymous Book Tour Down Under. (Should it ever come to pass.) “Navigator1965 reeks havoc upon Aussie wine stocks. News at 11:00.”

        Actually, the damn book finally came out last weekend, catching me completely by surprise. Naturally, a little wine was in order, to celebrate. California Cab, as I didn’t have bubbly on hand.

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      • The odd one or two, perhaps. In fact, this included one of the Jacob’s Creek wines which you’ve featured, which in turn appears to be inspiring a counter-post to this one.

        In true honorary Wine Wanker spirit, it will be written in a most serious and sensible fashion. The Wine Wankers could accept nothing less. };-)>

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      • I believe it was the Shiraz. The wine was as advertised, but this still is a matter that requires the attention of the highest of authorities. };-)>

        Can’t spoil the surprise.

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      • Ireland! I’m jealous–thanks the land of my ancestors, on both sides, with (ahem) the odd genetic intrusion into the bloodline. Never been, but have always wanted to visit.

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  3. I’ve just started to really get into reds, it was a struggle, so I started off with pinot’s and I tell you what… I was wrong for so many years to think that I wouldn’t like red because I found it too violent but I really do now. As for preconceptions about mass markets/price etc, I’ve never let that affect my purchase, but I live in Adelaide so we’re pretty lucky in the sense that with the mass produced comes wine from the smaller vineyards because it’s so readily available to us. However, if I’m interstate, then that’s a whole other issue when it comes to buying wine. Thankyou so much for an excellent read, I look forward to giving the sauv-blanc and pinot a try. 🙂

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  4. Imagery of a gentle ladies club) – certainly 🙂 The deeper the red, dry with a full body texture, the better for me. I am also a little bit closed minded in selection but have double standards at wine farms when I taste everything! Even here, Jacobs is not the worst of the lot, there are worse still. I don’t mind cheaper wines because sometimes you can find a real steal, however, I have to drink the wine without the price tag etched in my mind (which is not always easy) because it its rubbish, it will make me sick almost immediately – I love SA wines, clearly as I live in the Western Cape, but oh my, how i love to venture into the world and stand at the foreign wine selection side for hours, reading, deciding, reading, deciding, and then going home with a little of Italy, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Portugal and France – a bit flirtatious I know, but always imagining who made this and how at times, they get the taste to reach such perfection! sorry for the long post, carried away there 🙂

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  5. This is an excellent post and a good reminder re: preconceived notions. I am very, VERY bad at that.

    On a side note, we’re having a big family get-together this weekend, and I’m going to see if I can find any Jacob’s Creek at our local liquor store. My parents are in a “Shiraz phase” right now, and I’d like to see what they think of this. If I find a bottle, I will report back with my findings.

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  6. I like to buy the wines at different wineries, and feel somewhat classy when I have one on hand, but I admit that this Jacobs Creek has entered my home on several occasions..When its just me I have to please. 🙂

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  7. Very true what you said about people sticking usually to a couple of brand names of wine .I´ll stick with all, but that´s just my crazy me, but I do find that people who really know about wines don´t go on wine orgy as you say.

    P.S. I just notice,now I notice go figure, that I´m following you with 15,000+ other people, that can only mean there must be a lot of drunks out there. And how many type of wines in the world could there be? That would be an interesting fact to know.

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  8. I have always been promiscuous about wine, I learned it when I was a broke student and university and never got away from it. Now, as a grown up I enjoy the fun of rambling through some of the off kilter shops we have in our ‘dry’ counties of Texas where we sometimes must drive 25 miles or more to find liquor and wine stores and then stock up. I admit to having favorites, some which please a wide and ‘immature’ palette and some which please only me. I also have a group of friends who compete each month to find new ‘favorites’ in each of the ‘colors’, under $25 USD, we share at our wine tasting night conducted over the phone since we live in different parts of the country.

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  9. Really interesting post! Here in Ontario, Canada (and I think our Liquor Control Board system of selling wine is smart – ‘sin’ taxes on alcohol used for social programs) I always thought of Jacobs Creek reds as a reliable go to wine for barbecues …must look for the ‘reserve’ selection – if you export them – and see if I can tell the difference!

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  10. Great Post! As you know, I love to try new wines, but I do steer away from the mass produced most of the time. I was actually craving another sparkling shiraz the other day. Our weather is finally hot and in the high 80’s. I’ll have to stop by my local wine shop and order some of The Chook. 🙂 I really enjoyed trying it last year. Your post inspired it, of course.

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  11. I am also a promiscuous wine drinker (especially if someone else if offering, naturally). I’m a fan of Jacob’s Creek and would drink almost any wine out of a brown paper bag and have no clue if it was a $250 bottle of a $2 bottle. That’s just how us classy chicks roll!

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  12. I have an open mind when it comes to wine. You never know what you are getting until you try it. Some of the best wines I have had are those I have never heard of.

    I guess I am a bit promiscuous too. 😉

    I love reading your posts!
    ~Wine lover from Miami

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  13. Never understood the snobbery involved in wine. Still don’t. I should think everyone has a different opinion, and while we don’t agree, it’s hard to argue about opinions.
    I’ve been engaged in more than one blind tasting, and many times we all prefer the same $16 bottle over the $70 one!

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    • You’re right Joey, it really does come down to personal taste and it is all just about what you enjoy. I suppose for me I discovered a lot of wine that wasn’t mass-produced and gained a taste for that. This post is about rediscovering wine from a big producer.

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  14. Have you tried the brand “Promiscuous” 😉 Anyway, great post! I tried Jacob’s Creek a few years back and pushed it aside. College gives you a slight false sense of “uppity” because your parents cushion you a little. I’ve now learned to enjoy “mass produced” blends, so I”ll have to add the reserve to my list 🙂

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  15. Great post. The food pictures made my mouth water. Your reviews of the wines was very helpful. My Dad was an a connoisseur of wine. Me not so much. I would like to learn more and this certainly helped.

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  16. where do i put my name and address to receive wine as well?
    and by the way.. I am so biased… swiss by origin, but clearly, when it’s about wine, New Zealand wins each time!!!

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    • You could always just ask a winery to send you samples, that’s what we did. I suppose having this blog and a prolific wine social media presence did help us actually cross the line with a small number. Good luck! 🙂 NZ wine is great, a few of our recent posts are on NZ wine.

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  17. Loved this blog! I’m lucky enough to live in a wine region of New Zealand so I am yet to run out of new wines to try but this definitely makes me reconsider giving brand name wines a chance on weeks where the pay cheque isn’t so good! A very open minded and grounded blog, very well written!

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    • Thank you for your kind words, and yes, if you’re after value for money then the bigger producers can sometimes pump some good stuff out for a great price. I’m not sure though if you’d always be as successful as we were this time but you’ve got to try. 🙂

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  18. isn’t that interesting theoryof mass production in wine preparation drinking on price variationsyes close mindedness we all do that sometimes too but in every wine comes at different ages different taste.or I should say I’m trying to play catch up with all your workbecause I was missing for a while hope to enjoy every piece I’m trying to comment on all keep up the good work

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