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Wednesday 18 June 2014

Jacob's Creek and a whisky business strategy

Jacob's Creek has unveiled a pair of new premium red wines that have been first matured in oak and then finished off in whisk(e)y barrels.

The new Double Barrel range comprises a Barossa 2012 Shiraz finished in 20-year-old Scottish whisky barrels and a 2012 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon finished in similarly aged Irish whiskey barrels.
Chief winemaker Bernard Hickin says the new wines, which will retail for around $25 a bottle, have exceeded expectations when it comes to quality – but only after some experimentation in the winery.

Our winemakers quickly learnt that the double barrel finishing process gave additional softness, complexity and flavour to the wines, but it took two years of trials to get the process right,” Hickin said. “Each barrel performs differently so it took us some time to come up with the perfect balance.”

The Jacob's Creek team discovered that bigger red wine styles, like shiraz, reacted best with Scottish whisky barrels and cabernet sauvignon worked better with the less intense, smoother, Irish whiskey barrels.

The wines are made in the normal way with 18 months in French and American oak barrels before spending up to six weeks in the whisk(e)y barrels – which are made in a different way to traditional wine barrels, being scorched at a greater heat, which releases natural wood sugars, and having narrow staves, which allow for more oxygen exchange.

Many of the finest wines from Bordeaux are given similar micro-oxygenation to soften them, and make them more approachable.

We hope the style of these wines will appeal both to wine drinkers and to whisky lovers,” Hickin says. “There has been no attempt to give the wines a spirity flavour, but we think the whisky barrels do give a softening element and add interest on the palate.

We are fortunate that the initial releases are from the excellent 2012 vintage so we can come out with all guns blazing – and we have chosen fruit from two of the best red wine regions in the country.

“We do stress that it’s more of a finishing process – it’s not an aging process. And we’ve done research and found that there are one or two other people on the planet that have done some things similar to what we’ve done, but the way we’ve approached it has been really unique."

Hickin describes the shiraz as a “blokey” wine designed unashamedly to appeal to male consumers - and both are intense, full-blooded wines.

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel will be available in major retail stores across Australia from July 1. 

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