February 08, 2010

Super Bowl and Jacobs Creek

I was offered some samples of Jacob's Creek wines from Australia from a stateside marketing firm. The deal - taste the wines and pair them at your Super Bowl party with some interesting recipe or preparation, then write about it. Some might call it a crass marketing ploy. I thought it would be kind of fun, especially if we had some neighbors over who aren't nearly as wine geeky as I am. And it was. So here we go.

Four Jacob's Creek wines showed up right before the big game. I wasn't sure if they'd make it, and I was set on making Belgian sugar waffles for the event (with lots of encouragement from one particular neighbor). The wines made it. We knew they wouldn't go with sugar waffles. But plans were in motion so we went ahead, even though that wasn't exactly the point of the whole thing. Really though, what wine do you want with sugar waffles? What beer would you want? Me, I think coffee or tea would be best. But the big game (said in Homestar Runner's voice), you need some colden ones. So wine it was.

How did it go? The results were mixed, meaning we loved the waffles and seriously enjoyed one of the wines. The others met a mixed reaction from the group. I didn't really like them, but it was interesting seeing how others found things they enjoyed.

First, the 2008 Jacob's Creek Pinot Grigio. This was really good wine, especially for the $6 you might find it for at the supermarket. Clean, melon, pineapple and white pepper smells, soft and round but tangy in the mouth and pretty dry. One neighbor commented it was "brief" but we all agreed this was the winner of the line up. Who would have guess. You say Australia and I think riesling, shiraz, and muscat. I don't think of grigio. This is more enjoyable than a lot of more "serious" grigio out there. Mom would love it.

Then the 2008 Riesling Reserve. I've enjoyed the Steingarten Riesling from Jacob's Creek, one of Australia's more serious white wines. This however wasn't up to that one. There were some interesting petrol and spiced jelly candy aromas, but the flavors were all white grape juice and flat. One neighbor summed it up well - "the smell is much better than the taste."

For reds, the 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve. This I honestly did not like. It smelled of smokey barbeque sauce with raspberry essence, more like zinfandel. The flavors were similar, leaving me wondering why mass market pinot noir producers make pinot that doesn't taste at all like pinot. It's like people are afraid of letting the grape be itself. I'd be surprised if there wasn't something blended in here, and/or serious concentration efforts in the winemaking process. Of course, I'm not the arbiter of taste. One sampler thought this was pretty good and poured herself another glass. [edit - I tried this two nights later and what do you know? It tastes pinot like now, though a little eucalyptusy and worked over. Still, I thought it fair to add that this turned out to be more drinkable than my first impression. Fair's fair.]

Finally, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. This wasn't bad in its idiom, yet I was surprised that no one else cared for the wine. This has a strong cassis and blackberry pie filling aroma with charry oak and some light green pepper notes. Essentially, typical pumped up new world cabernet. Not my style, but it was clearly cabernet. The flavors were similar, though the round rich palate turned a little harsh, something I find with lots of large production, big cabs like this. I can see people loving the concentration of flavors, the syrupy mouthfeel and overall largesse. Yet everyone else was going back to the grigio or even the pinot. Very interesting. I wouldn't have guessed that.

What about the sugar waffles? I didn't get a picture, but you can see more here, along with the recipe. Who knows who writes the Feeding the Boys blog, but this picture alone made my mouth water, remembering street vendors in Europe selling these lightly sweet, yeasty eggy afternoon treats. I can't recommend highly enough that you make them, assuming you like waffles and caramelized sugar and life itself. For the sugar, you can buy expensive fancy packages of chunky pearl sugar. Or you can cheap out and chop up sugar cubes into pieces. Works for me. Again, they won't match with many or any wines, but who cares. They were great, so was having a group try these wines, and so was the game.

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