I was lucky enough to be invited to the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne recently as a guest of Jacob’s Creek. Although the evening tennis was a great way to finish off the experience, the day actually started early when we all met up around midday for a special lunch where we got to sample some great wine from Stoneleigh out of Marlborough in New Zealand.
So, lunch on the Yarra River at Pilgrim restaurant and there’s a small handful of wine journalists and writers from respected publications… and me, the wine blogging social media dude. Funny! It’s always a bit of a laugh when I first explain The Wine Wankers to people who’ve never heard of us before.
After a bit of mingling we all sat down at a table to formally taste each of the Stoneleigh wines. We heard some interesting facts while we sat there –
- NZ Sauvignon Blanc makes up 34.7% of the Australian bottled “White” wine market
- NZ Sauvignon Blanc is growing at 5.89% in Australia vs year ago
- Average price paid for NZ Sauvignon Blanc in Australia is $11.97
- Stoneleigh has 9.4% share of the NZ Sauvignon Blanc market in Australia
- This equates to Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc holding a whopping 3% of the Australian bottled white wine market!
- Average price paid for Stoneleigh in Australia is $13.32
- Premium Rose category grew 26.9% volume and 32% value (MAT 21/12/14)
I, like most of those at the tasting, were quite impressed with the wines we sampled. The Latitude range of both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir stood out. The 2014 Latitude Sauvignon Blanc was dry and flinty with a lovely tang zipping across tropical fruits and melon while the 2013 Latitude Pinot was quite complex with obvious oak that seemed to dance smoothly across creamy cherries with a smoky nutty surprise that lasted in the mouth. Yum stuff!
The Stoneleigh Rapaura range was a treat too with a 2013 Rapaura Sauvignon Blanc being a complex version of the Marlborough style with enough acid to hold the wine together beautifully for many years. With a lovely mouth feel there was passion fruit laying across honeydew and grapefruit like flavours. The 2012 Rapaura Pinot gave off beautifully inviting aromas and delivered quite rich and smoky fruit flavours. Polishing off the lovely 2014 Pinot Rosé with lunch was a treat!
After the indulging long lunch we all boarded the Jacob’s Creek boat and headed up river to the tennis stadium, Rod Laver Arena, and into the Jacob’s Creek tent where we were greeted by a long table containing the whole of the Jacob’s Creek range, about 50 or so wines. Apparently this was a special and rare occasion and even the company employees rarely see the whole range in one place. To me, I just saw exploration and fun… it was “pour your own” after all… 😉
There were so many wines I really enjoyed. I’m a big fan of the multi-award Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay from Adelaide Hills so I was pretty chuffed to see that two other special release wines had been added to the range, that being a Yarra Valley chardonnay and one from Margaret River.
The 2013 Adelaide Hills Reserve was a tasty wine. It’s such a well made Chardonnay that sits right in the sweet spot of being a lovely crisp fruit driven chardy while still showing some toasty old style characters. It’s definitely made to please and each time I have it I can always see why it does so well at the shows. The 2013 Yarra Valley version displayed the balanced acid that the Yarra is known for while the 2013 Margaret River version was a lovely fruit driven chardy. A good experience.
Now a lot of people bag-out the Jacob’s Creek bubbles but for their price they are great value and that’s why the best selling sparkler in Australia is from Jacob’s Creek. The bubbly range is quite extensive and my nose got a bit tingly after a while (I think that was the bubbles). I even thought both the sparkling white and pink Moscato were good wines for those who like that style. What a surprise and a delight the sparkling Sauvignon Blanc was. So much tantalizing flavour and one of the journalists even said to me that he thought it was his favourite wine on the table. I’ve hit Jacob’s Creek up for a delivery of their bubblies. I want to give the range a more ‘in-depth’ sampling… 😉
There were some great reds on the table too! I’m a fan of the Double Barrel range, a Cabernet and a Shiraz. These wines have been finished in whiskey barrels. Does this actually make a difference? A lot of people think the wines are just a gimmick but they sell extremely well. Some of the wine writers at the event told me that some of them got to try the before whiskey barrel version up against the finished product and they say there is obvious added complexity. Anyway, I like them and sense an almost dusty earthy character that rides over the lovely fruit characters in both wines. The Cabernet is definitely my favourite.
The 2010 Reeves Point Shiraz from Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia was a lovely more-ish red wine and the super premium Heritage range of wines, especially the Johann Shiraz Cabernet and 2008 Centenary Hill Shiraz, were an absolute delight. Both these wines are complex and sit long in the mouth after each sip. I liked the Centenary Hill so much that they found me a bottle to have with my dinner but everyone around me made me share. It didn’t last long.
And then there was the tennis… awesome front row seats… but plastic cups… 😦
One of the best things about the event was that not only did we get to meet the wine makers we also got to meet the contract grape growers. These people turned out to be wonderfully passionate people who clearly put their hearts into their craft.
Sadly, I did see some negativity come out of all this. When engaging about the event on social media I got a few people who dissed it all because these are commercial brands. As a wine lover who is so into discovery I don’t close my mind to any wine but there are those out there that do. Their loss because as most of us at the event agreed, the Stoneleigh and Jacob’s Creek ranges are well made and, when putting yourself into the shoes of a general wine consumer, I can see why they are brands that a lot of people are into.
Author: Conrad Grah