Today we will review two big Australian reds.
Jip Jip Rocks (2008), $15:
First: you don’t want the cabernet. And you don’t want the shiraz. (They are drinkable, but merely average.) You want the shiraz/cabernet blend, recommended to me by Michelle at Premier Wine in Wilmington, DE.
Jip Jip is a hit because it tastes big — REALLY big — yet it is not overpowering. It’s very fruit-forward, without being ooey-gooey sweet. It has some mild tannins. It’s very warm, it’s very dark purple, and it’s delicious. Its mere existence makes you think of steak. And it has a cool name and zero “get used to it” phase: most red drinkers will like it right away.
However, Jip Jip is not layered or super complex. And prior vintages were better. Either 2008 was a so-so year, or Jip Jip is beginning to “dumb it down” by using cheaper grapes for greater profit as the brand becomes popular. We won’t know which until next year’s vintage. For now, it’s still very good, and I still buy it.
Jacob’s Creek (2006), $11:
Another red that I buy fairly regularly, the Jacob’s Creek reserve shiraz has been around a while. It’s usually incredible for its low price, but it’s always at least good. The goodness-to-dollars ratio is so exceptional that I have deemed it a “Best Value” (hence, the guy laughing at the slot machine). It’s a very deep and dark red in color, very BIG, very warm, and utterly yummy. However, it’s drier, smokier and spicier than Jip Jip, with more tannins. You wouldn’t call this one a fruit bomb.
The Jacob’s Creek works well with food, or on its own. One note: you don’t want their regular shiraz. You want the reserve. Finally, Jacob’s Creek is not super complex, and the current vintage is not their best ever.
Which is better? This year, for me, it’s Jip Jip, as its higher price would suggest. But if you like smoky, spicy reds and you avoid juicy, fruit-forward wines, you’ll prefer the Jacob’s Creek. Either way, you get wonderful bigness on a budget, without the excess oaky taste that is injected into so many California reds.