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Jacobs Creek launches Double Barrel

Jacob’s Creek, the Australian wine brand from Pernod Ricard Winemakers, is pushing the boundaries of modern winemaking with the launch of Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel – a range of premium red wines finished in whisky barrels.

The winemakers have sourced aged barrels that had held premium whiskies for up to 20 years, and started experimenting. They found that the double barrel finishing process lent additional complexity and texture to wines, but it took two years of trials to perfect the resulting product for release.

“Each barrel performs differently, so it took time to understand the true effect on the wines, and achieve a result that was perfectly balanced,” explains Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker at Jacob’s Creek.

“We started with high quality fruit from selected Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards, from which we crafted premium red wine. We then matured the parcels traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing 100% of the matured wine in old whisky barrels.

“We discovered that finishing the wines in aged whisky barrels introduced additional intricacy and a smoother texture, due to the fundamental differences between barrels made for ageing whisky, and those crafted to age wine.”

Whisky barrels are scorched at a high heat, which releases their natural wood sugars, while their narrower staves allow for greater oxygen exchange. Over a long period of time, this imparts colour, flavour and sweetness to whisky. For Double Barrel, Jacob’s Creek used well-aged whisky barrels, so their influence is subtle – adding intriguing nuances without changing the essential character of the wine.

Following extensive trials, the winemakers agreed that the barrels of certain whisky styles were better suited to certain wines. The rich intensity of Shiraz was considered better suited to the more assertive style of Scotch whisky, while the elegance of Cabernet Sauvignon was well suited to the smooth style of Irish whiskey.

Bernard Hickin continues: “The use of Scotch whisky barrels to finish our Double Barrel Shiraz has imparted additional layers of complexity and smoothness, which combine beautifully with the rich varietal plum, fruit cake and chocolate notes of Barossa Shiraz.

“On the other hand, finishing Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon in Irish whiskey

barrels has integrated the black fruit flavours and aromatic herbal notes, softened the tannins and, most noticeably, added real richness throughout the palate.”

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel is launching initially in Australia, and will be available in major retail outlets from 1 July 2014 at RRP AU$24.99. The range comprises: Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012; and Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Jean-Christophe Coutures, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, said: “Double Barrel is an exciting addition to Jacob’s Creek - and indeed the wider Pernod Ricard Winemakers - portfolio. These wines challenge conventional winemaking processes, whilst remaining committed to the heritage and provenance of the Jacob’s Creek brand. This is an opportunity to remind consumers of the brand’s ability to produce premium and truly innovative products to suit the needs of all consumers.”

Jacob’s Creek is one of Australia’s leading global wine brands. The brand was first launched in 1976 and is named after the place where Johann Gramp planted his first vines on the banks of Jacob’s Creek in 1847. In doing so, Johann founded the Barossa Valley’s first commercial vineyard.


17 June 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor