G’day guys and what a relief it is to be back to what I know, the written word, my YouTube channel is very much in its infancy as it stands now. But unlike all other supporting social media pages it does at least show some sign of promise. I am taking steps to better it further. I hope you enjoyed the homebrew wine article, there were some prevalent beginners mistakes still present in that clip. But as I said before “I know what I did wrong the last time”. Something I wish I said less often, but we are at least ticking off the number of things I can do wrong. I spent nearly a whole week on the article preceding this one, the Penfolds article done during was a little rushed. What home brewing my own wine (or as close to being my wine as it could be when I bought the ingredients from Woolworths and know nothing of where it was grown) is it makes you appreciate the process of winemaking further as a participant than you can being an outside observer. You come to an understanding of how much the big whigs of the labels are sitting on in terms of labor. You come to appreciate those pictures on Pinterest of those mouth-watering frothing masses of red in those behemoths of fermenters just a little more than you already do. As a former horticultural student, I could certainly appreciate how the wineries of Cognac, Bordeaux, Sicily, and Stellenbosch take great pride in the observation and maintenance of their vineyards. But once the grapes are plucked by the vine, either by a backpacking student on a work holiday, or by machine. I like to imagine the grape harvesters that brought the grapes to be what they are in my glass, were it not by human hands, to be some patina vintage tractor, those industry adapted tractors fitted above large platforms built for the job. But most likely, they are the work of newer, more colder and buttoned-up modern models. Such is business.
Today’s bottle comes to us from another prestigious Australian terroir, the Coonawarra region of South Australia. The soil of Coonawarra, or so the story goes, was weathered by millions of years until the end of the ice age as seabed, when the coast receded inland locked up in icecaps. In this time, one can only imagine that the soil was fertilized with the millions upon millions of spent bodies of invertebrates, as typical of many of the ancient seabed vineyards. The vineyards are exposed to the Antarctic breeze after the sealine receded. Thanks to the flat terrain, the maritime winds are carried inland from the coast, and bring relieving cool breeze to the vines in the heat of the fruiting season. This and the consistent cloud cover, lead to the vines fruiting for longer. The soil of Coonawarra’s terroir varies in soil on either side of the long strip of red dirt along the westward surface of the Riddoch Highway called the Terra Rossa, from limestone to moisture-retaining clay. The western more clayey region is susceptible to waterlogging in times of flood, producing darker more unfruitful grapes. The more eastern soil is rich in limestone and nutrients, with better drainage. The area of Terra Rossa itself, is the bountiful land unto which many top shelf wines are produced from, and are the most expensive vineyards of the region. The red dirt having been exposed by the maritime winds as soon as the seabed was drawn dry, held within it many beneficial minerals for winemaking. Coonawarra is one of the big names to put it in a nutshell. Reassuring, seeing as this bottle is not the only one under this heading in my foreseeable future. In my wine cabinet, I have kept a two-thousand-and-nine cabernet sauvignon Coonawarra, a decade old this year. A decade aged it may be, but I’m in no rush to crack it open just yet.
But what of the bottle this article hinges on? This bottle arriving to us from the label, Jacob’s Creek, this one-hundred-and-seventy-four year old label. In eighteen-thirty-seven, the Deutschman Johann Gramp migrated to Australia, landing in Reeves Point on Kangaroo Island. Two years later, he befriended another German, a mineralogist who had studied the soil of another now famed wine region, the Barossa Valley, and seen it’s potential for farming and fruit growing. A decade after his migration to Australia in the year eighteen-forty-seven, Johann and his wife purchase a thirty hectare plot of land along the Jacob Creek and began planting vines and became the Barossa Valley’s first commercial vineyard. They produce their first wine in eighteen-fifty. The label grew into what it is today, with vineyards in two states, South and Western Australia. The Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, and as the ones of you with fully functioning memories will recall, Coonawarra. But in the shelves of the local liquor store, these tidbits on Australian wine history wouldn’t have been known to draw attention to their products without some bragging rights. It would have gone completely unnoticed, were it not for this bottle’s hook.
In the pages of this as-yet young website, I have tasted a fair share of liquors that have exploited the method of double oaking their product. But until now, they have all been whiskeys. The Bushmills single malt Irish whiskey, oaked in bourbon barrels and Portugese sherry barrels. That other historical Irish whiskey, Teeling, finished in barrels purchased from the Nicaraguan rum label Flor de Cana. And more recently, the Jim Beam Double Oak. Like the Teeling, many labels take advantage of preowned barrels to use the tastes sealed into the wood to impart new flavors into their product. Like the Jameson a few articles back had done with beer barrels, many whiskey labels use wine barrels to impart the taste of red wine into their distillate. This bottle, is vice versa. Finished in barrels purchased previously containing Irish whiskey. The double oaking alone caught my attention, I only learnt that the barrels were Irish whiskey barrels after I left the checkout. I’m very interested to learn how this will affect the character of the drink.
The nose is very light for a cabernet sauvignon, sickly sweet and thin in strength. As though to reflect the mellowed mild nose of the Irish whiskey from the barrels aged in. Nose of strawberries and plaster. And the taste. The taste is chalky but refinely so. This may read bizarrely, but I’m unbothered by this. It’s unusual and characterful. Notes of sun dried cherry tomatoes, and an exit of juicy cranberries.
To summarise: This wine is definitely a tryer. Featuring tastes and tones the like of which I’ve never experienced before. A perfect case study that neither wine nor whiskey needn’t stick to the textbook definition of the liquor. The very unusualness of the vin draws me back again and again for more. Cheers