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james laube's wine flights

Layer Cake Aims for Quality and Value

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Feb 7, 2008 6:18pm ET

Layer Cake is another of Jayson Woodbridge’s passion plays. But unlike his $250-a-bottle Hundred Acre Cabernet, or his new designer vineyard acquisition, Pickett Road, LC is aimed at value wines and hopefully will subsidize Woodbridge’s more ambitious vinous pursuits.

The concept behind Layer Cake—which represents the different layers of wine and the image of a handcrafted product—is great wines at affordable prices.

It’s a concept all wine drinkers can get behind. But it’s also an ambition that few can fulfill, since making great wines is expensive, whether it’s due to grape or production costs. So I’ll give Woodbridge an A for effort, and a B for execution. Three of the wines sell for $15; only the 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet will be higher priced, in the $25 to $30 range when it's released next year.

Woodbridge is using Layer Cake as a multinational brand, producing four wines from four countries. The first two of which I tried in a blind tasting yesterday were in the good to very good range: a 2006 Primitivo from Puglia, in Italy (15,000 cases), which was supple and harmonious, with spicy peppery flavors that were well focused, and a 2006 Barossa Valley Shiraz (18,000 cases), a bit less compelling, but with appealing plum and wild berry fruit.

Soon to come will be a Malbec from Argentina.

Woodbridge says the brand is not intended to be a high-volume profit center, yet it will give him more cash flow than Hundred Acre does, with only 1,000 cases.

“It’s not a high margin [brand] because we spend a lot of money on the fruit,” he said. “We don’t have any [growth] projections. If we have good fruit we’ll make more wine. If we don’t, we won’t.”

He said that with the drought-clipped 2007 harvest in Barossa he had been unable to make a wine that fit into his quality-price parameters.

Andrew Miner
February 7, 2008 9:13pm ET
James,I recently came into possesion of a few bottles of the Hundred Acre Ancient Way Shiraz from Jayson Woodbridge. I have seen little to no comments on this particular wine. Will there be anything coming down the line on this wine?
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  February 11, 2008 12:20pm ET
I've had the 2006 Layer Cake Shiraz -- alot of fuss but really not all that special. Do you think it needs more time?
Marketing Guru
Sonoma, CA —  August 20, 2009 6:19pm ET
I have some Hundred Acre Ancient Way (not to be confused with Layer Cake Shiraz mentioned above), it has more in common with Hundred Acre Cab than other Big Barossa Shirazs...in a good way. Elegant, powerful, really amazing, super-concentrated I buy his wines regularly on the mailing and the interesting thing is that the Shiraz takes much longer to come around than the cabs, the 04 Shiraz is just starting to show it's true colors, where the cabs are great right as you get them.

I think the Wine Enthusiast gave one of them 94 points once, but I can't remember which vintage, doesn't matter, the wine speaks for itself.

Cheers!

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