The 1997 Reserve Chardonnay (not yet rated, $14) comes from Padthaway, a cool region recognized for its crisp and elegant whites, and is made from free-run juice fermented in French oak barrels. The second wine is a 1996 Reserve Shiraz (not yet rated, $15) from the Barossa Valley, one of Australia's classic red wine areas. The Shiraz matured in new American oak for 18 months.
Jacob's Creek is produced by Orlando Wines, the Barossa Valley-based wine company that also includes the Hunter Hill, Montrose Estate Wines and Wyndham Estate brands. In addition to the new reserve wines, the Jacob's Creek bottlings include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Semillon-Chardonnay and Shiraz-Cabernet blends.
Chief winemaker Philip Laffer attributed the higher-quality fruit used in the reserve wines to advances in viticulture. First came the identification of distinct soil types within the vineyards. Selected blocks were then harvested when the grapes reached full maturity, as measured by taste rather than simply by sugar or acid levels. Although production of the reserve line is currently only 2,000 cases, the winery expects to increase that substantially within the next few vintages.
For recent ratings of Jacob's Creek wines, look up Orlando in the Wine Search.
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