Wine review — Jacob’s Creek, Oxford Landing & Climbing

Jacob’s Creek Shiraz 2006, Grenache Shiraz 2007, Shiraz Cabernet 2007, Merlot 2007, Cabernet Merlot 2005 $9–$11
My pick of these always-reliable reds is the shiraz, described in a breathless and silly press release as ‘a great example of a big hearty red’ but more aptly, on the back label, as ‘a medium bodied wine’. That’s Jacob’s Creek to a tee – tasty but medium bodied, true to varietal flavour and with sufficient structure to be real reds. They’re tremendously good value and as easy to drink on their own as they are with food – a key to their international success, says winemaker Philip Laffer. These are benchmark multi-regional blends delivering flavour at an affordable price.

Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Merlot 2007, Shiraz 2007 $7–$9
Jacob’s Creek uses cross-regional blending to achieve the right price and flavour. But the Hill-Smith family’s budget range, Oxford Landing, comes from a large, single estate on the Murray. It’s big enough to provide considerable flavour and structure variation amongst the popular grape varieties. And it’s fifty years since Wyndham Hill-Smith established the vineyard – sufficient time to learn its peculiarities intimately. The zesty, sauvignon blanc, with its clear, varietal passionfruit-like flavours is, to me, consistently the best budget version of this style in Australia. The fragrant, silky shiraz reveals its touch of viognier. And the lean, savoury merlot makes an excellent pizza wine.

Climbing Wines Orange Shiraz 2006 $19–$21
Climbing, from nearby Orange, comes from the comparatively new (for Australia) school of fine-boned, peppery, spicy, cool-grown shiraz. If our big, generous, warm-grown versions still hold the widest appeal, there’s plenty going, too, for those from Canberra and the cool regions surrounding it, and other high-altitude or southerly locations in Australia. Made by Philip Shaw (former chief winemaker at Rosemount) and Debbie Lauritz, 2006 Climbing is an aromatic, spicy/savoury red with a lively palate and a fine and silky texture. The bling count on the label is an impressive three gold, two trophies, one silver and two bronze medals. Someone likes it.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008

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