...branded a fool etc. etc. It's not Monday at school, it's Wednesday in Dobcross (home of champion whistler David Morris) and so it's back to Brands - hence the weak 'branded a fool' bit (it's from Grease, for numpties). Tonight it's the second pair from Jacob's Creek. Have to confess to positive vibes for JC. A long time ago, in my transition from electronics engineer to mad, bad, brand-tasting wine writer, I stayed for a week at a place called the Bunkhaus on the main road between Tanunda and Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley, and cycled to several wineries. There IS an actual Jacob's Creek there, even if most of the grapes that go into the bottles don't come from the surrounding district. But I remember writing in the Bunkhaus's visitor's book that JC was one of those rare brands that did the biz with some panache. Monday's whites seemed to bear this out - what about tonight's reds...?
Jacob's Creek Shiraz 2006, South Eastern Australia
This is fresh, spicy stuff, generous in its berry and plum flavours, but with a juicy peppery edge to liven up the finish. Relaxed and tasty, I really like this. Not too big, not too ripe, not too oaky, an honest appealing glass of wine, and although there are no rough edges that need resolving, I'd be very interested to see how this looks with another couple of years in bottle. Speaking of which...
Jacob's Creek Shiraz/Cabernet 2005, South Eastern Australia
...when I lived in London, any major sporting occasion saw several members of the wine fraternity descend on Oz Clarke's house for 'a good time'. For the World Cup, everyone had to bring wine from a World Cup vintage, so you'd have everything from hot-of-the-press Kiwi Sauvignon from a visiting winemaker to weirdies such as 1962 Romanian Cotnari to more conventional fare such as 1982 claret. And on one of these occasions, Oz - a wine hoarder of the highest order - raided his massively disorganised wine cellar to produce a vertical tasting of about a dozen vintages of this wine dating back to the mid-1908s. Surprisingly good they were too, with most years holding up well, and a handful all the better for the bottle age. So how's the 2005? There's some of that fresh peppery edge of the regular Shiraz, but the fruit is softer, plummier - is this the Cabernet, or the older vintage? For me it's not as successful a wine, but it's still not bad, with juicy berry to the fore, followed by a leathery, liquoricey edge.