Jacob's Creek is Australia's biggest wine exporter, and the traditional Jacob's Creek wines are huge sellers throughout the United States. The winery's stated goal with this inexpensive line is to provide accessible, fruit-driven wines that do not need cellaring. The Jacob's Creek Shiraz, either the 2005 or 2006 vintage, is widely available in most areas for about $6 a bottle.
Jacob's Creek is the name of the first vineyard planted in the Barossa Valley by Johan Gramps in 1847, but the label indicates that this wine is "named after" Jacob's Creek rather than a product of the Jacob's Creek vineyard. Whereas place is a crucial factor in European wines (can you imagine a wine "named after" Clos du Papillon or Clos Chaudenay?), the Australian tradition rather focuses on producing a consistent style of wine year after year. With the Jacob's Creek Shiraz, as in many Australian wines, this is done by blending grapes from vineyards in many areas of the country.
The color is a dark ruby with strong purplish tones. Even from sniffing the wine, you immediately become aware that it is big and tannic--fruit-oriented, yes, but not in the same way as Reserve Henri-Marc Syrah or La Vieille Ferme. There's not much new oak but what there is is firmly wrapped around the fruit. The palate impression is the same. It's pleasant up front with fruit flavors emerging along with tannin on the mid-palate--licorice, plums, dark chocolate and vanilla-flavored coffee. It's ripe and sweet but really not very supple.
I prefer wines like La Vieille Ferme and Reserve Henri-Marc Syrah, but there are clearly many other wine drinkers who think differently. For this style of wine and price level, it's well made. And its double gold medal from Tasters' Guild ($7 to $10 category) is well deserved.