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GRAPES OF AUSTRALIAN JOY

Jacob's Creek launches two wines from its Heritage collection



Largely regarded as the pin-up of New World of wine, Australia's more than 2,300 wineries regularly produce reliable sun-drenched, fruit-driven varietals. More than half of Australia's wine is produced in South Australia.

Coming from this region is Jacob's Creek, which is owned by Pernod Ricard. Through the French beverage giant's Thailand office, Thais have been treated to some of Australia's greatest wines for the past decade via this successful brand.

Recently Pernod Ricard (Thailand) introduced two new products to Thai wine enthusiasts: Jacob's Creek Reeves Point Chardonnay 2005 and Jacob's Creek St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet 2007, both from the ultra-premium wine range in the label's Heritage collection.

Held at Mellow restaurant in Thonglor and themed "The Night of Power and Elegance", the launch emphasised the qualities of the Heritage collection.

Due to Jacob's Creek wines' ideal compatibility with certain Thai and Asian dishes, the organisers presented Western-style dishes with Asian twists in a four-course dinner designed to match the two new arrivals. Jacob's Creek winemaker Sam Kurtz, who has tasted tens of thousands of wines in his long career, was happy to reveal Jacob's Creek's 20-per-cent growth year on year in Asia.

The first course was Pomegranate Feta Salad and Passion Fruit Sauce, which was married with Reeves Point Chardonnay 2005. The freshness and fruitiness of the white wine went well with the tropical flavours of the dish. Other diners were also seen nodding in agreement. The wine was also paired with the second dish, Duck Pomelo Salad. Most considered it a perfect match but winemaker Kurtz reckoned the vinegar and pomelo were "a bit too strong" for the wine. It went well with the garlicky duck though.

Next up was Home-made Tofu Foie Gras Sauce, which was also matched with Chardonnay. Kurtz insisted this wine worked well with the tropical flavours of this dish thanks to the wine's nutty character.

For the main course, diners were offered the choice between Mellow's newest creation, Beef Cheek Job's Tears Risotto Bacon Glaze and Red Wine sauce, or Snow Fish White Sauce and Ratatouille with Seafood Sauce . I went for the fish, a misfit with Jacob's Creek St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, as the wine is ideal for the beef. But I finished the fish dish quickly so as to sample a few morsels of the beef courtesy of a colleague. It was a smart pairing.

The winemaker explained this "outstanding" cabernet sauvignon was all about "great soil, low yields and a mature wine" - it's aged for two years in French oaks and then bottled and aged another two years. The grapes are sourced from Coonawarra in South Australia, considered the best place in the country for structured and rich cabernet sauvignons.

"The wine is blessed with great longevity and 'robust' tannins. It's all about power and elegance," said Kurtz, adding: "The wine works well with the richness of the beef, lightening the beef's flavour."

Worth mentioning is the sophisticated launch party, which saw head honchos of Pernod Ricard (Thailand) welcoming VIPs. They were stunned by the performance of Canadian singer Genevieve "Gigi" Marentette, who was accompanied by her guitarist. The highlight of the evening was a performance by notable Japanese pianist Yuki Makita and singer Suttipong "Heart" Tadpitakkul.

Don't fret if you missed the party: Mellow is now serving these two wines.




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