Wine review — Helm and Jacob’s Creek

Helm Canberra District Half Dry Riesling 2011 $25
Bang! Hear the firing gun? It’s the opening of unwooded white season, as our winemakers launch the first of their 2011 vintages. In Canberra the main game is crisp, mainly dry rieslings — with some exceptions, like Ken Helm’s mouth-watering semi-dry style. The cool season delivered high natural acidity, a great virtue for this style. As the best of the German off-dry styles demonstrate, there’s magic in the combination of intense fruit flavour, delicacy, low alcohol and a strong line of acid offsetting the sweetness. Australian rieslings generally can’t emulate the delicacy of the German wines, but Helm’s ticks all the other boxes in 2011.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2009 $10.90–$17.99
Here’s to Jacob’s Creek for moving to regional naming on its Reserve range – matching varieties to region. But why not go the whole hog and supply rich technical detail to reviewers, as most other winemakers do? Alas, the labels might have changed, but the fast moving consumer goods marketing mentality still prevails in the company’s dumbed-down press material. That quibble aside, the wines are remarkably good – even the pinot, a difficult variety to produce well at this price. It looks, smells and tastes like pinot and avoids the sometimes confection-like character found in some cheaper version. It’s made to drink now.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2008 $10.90–$17.99
It’s so good after almost forty years of the Jacob’s Creek brand to see the Barossa name on one of the cheaper wines in the range – not just as an address for the brand, but as the single origin of the wine in the bottle. And it’s a bloody good Barossa shiraz – deeply coloured but not opaque, still youthfully crimson at the rim, ripe, but not over-ripe, and full flavoured but not heavy. There’s a nice core of plump, vibrant, juicy, cherry-like fruit, but it’s mingled with soft tannins and even a touch of oak – the real thing at a fair price. Watch for the discounts.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 31 July 2011 in The Canberra Times