Jacob’s Creek is to release its first biodynamic wine through its visitor centre in the Barossa Valley.
Currently in barrel, the wine is made using Shiraz from the 2012 vintage from a biodynamic vineyard in the McLaren Vale, and will be sold at the company’s cellar door operation next year.
According to chief winemaker Bernard Hickin, the wine will be packaged in a unique manner and, he said, “won’t look like any other Jacob’s Creek product.”
The upcoming release is part of several winemaking projects by Jacob’s Creek’s parent company, Orlando Wines, which in turn is owned by Pernod Ricard.
Among these is an organic Montepulciano from the 2011 vintage as well as an organic Chardonnay from this year’s vintage, using fruit from the Riverland.
“There was a lot of bad organic wine around but that has changed, and now there are producers making very good wine,” said Hicken, adding that the Jacob’s Creek organic Chardonnay has already attracted “strong interest” from the Nordic countries.
Beyond organic and biodynamic launches, the company has been working with a range of more obscure grapes, particularly those from Italy, and is currently finding success at its visitor centre with a Jacob’s Creek Limited Release Fiano and Nero d’Avola.
Speaking of the latter grape, Hickin remarked, “We have 200,000 people each year through our visitor centre and the Nero d’Avola is out selling other reds by five to one.”
He added that Jacob’s Creek also sells a Negro Amaro and launched an Arneis this year from the Adelaide Hills, using fruit from the 2011 vintage.
“We play with around 20 of the 2000 varieties found in Italy,” he commented, mentioning Vermentino as a further grape with potential from Australia.
He also said that Orlando Wines has just planted a new vineyard in the Barossa dedicated to Portuguese and Spanish varieties.
However, looking back, Hicken expressed his frustration with the Tempranillo grape.
“We launched a Jacob’s Creek Classic Tempranillo six years ago and it got great write-ups, but we couldn’t sell it… it was one of our few failures.”
He wondered however whether it would have sold better under the brand’s “Reserve” range.
As for whether current experimental releases will be distributed internationally, Brett McKinnon, managing director of Orlando Wines, said he was “working out how to take the wines into the broader market”.
He suggested that one route might be direct to consumer sales using the web or working with certain retailers “who want to help us tell the story.”
Meanwhile, Hicken has been tweaking the core range from Jacob’s Creek, making small but important changes such as sourcing more cool-climate fruit for the Chardonnay and reducing the proportion of American oak in its Reserve Shiraz – the brand’s best seller.