Drunk.com reviews the 2008 By Jingo! Montepulciano and gives a brief but great background to the variety August 2012
I’ve been meaning to write about this producer since I tasted their wines at the Adelaide Cellar Door Festival back in February. I kept putting it off though, because I know they have some interesting wines in the pipeline that might advance me in my quest to taste 100 varietals. However, I swung by Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills a couple of weeks ago where the winemaker had set up a tasting, and this wine subsequently turned up in my neighbourhood bottle ship, so I decided that covering it now is more important than waiting on their next releases. And with that, I give you the By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Montepulciano 2008.
In terms of region and grape, we’ve been to the Adelaide Hills many times, and somewhat surprisingly this is not our first encounter with a Montepulciano – I tasted the Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo back in December. Even more surprisingly I wrote a borderline halfway decent description of the grape back then. But for review, it’s a red grape planted widely throughout Italy, producing wines that typically have deep colour and medium acidity, which are made without oak influence and meant to be consumed relatively young. Also, it is not the grape used to make the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – in that case the name refers to the town and the wine is based on Sangiovese. I also should have mentioned back in December that it ripens fairly late and gives consistently generous yields.
As with nearly every grape variety I’ve ever described, someone has a patch of it somewhere in Australia, and By Jingo! is not the only such producer of Montepulciano. Vinodiversity lists over a dozen wineries with plantings or wines made from it, largely in South Australia but with one in Victoria. There are also plantings in New Zealand and California, though I think it’s fair to say they are all of very small scale and that the grape hasn’t yet really taken off outside of Italy.
By Jingo! is based in the Adelaide Hills, but I hadn’t heard of them until February, partly because they only celebrated their first year as a label this month, but also because they don’t as yet have a cellar door. What I’ve learned about them since then is that they’re driven by a love of Italian varieties, with Montepulciano being their star variety. The winemaker and vigneron, John Gilbert, got his start in wine by planting a small vineyard and taking a low level job with a producer in McLaren Vale. He followed up with a winemaking degree, vintages at opposite ends of Italy in Alto Adige and Sicily, and work on other wine labels before this venture where he’s finally able to focus on Italian grapes in Australia.
In addition to this Montepulciano, By Jingo! has produced a Zinfandel and a Montepulciano / Zinfandel blend. There is also mention of Nero d’Avola and Negroamaro on their website. In addition, a Grillo has been produced but not yet released, which Gilbert apparently imported as a variety in 2001. More conventionally, they also produce a Shiraz.
On top of that, they have a wine they call Mendoza, named for the Chardonnay clone used to produce it. Not being a Chardonnay expert I can only relate that relative to the classic Dijon clones, Mendoza can have smaller berries with a greater skin to juice ratio at the expense of higher incidence of millerandage (hen and chicken) which is when you get very small berries mixed in a bunch of normal sized berries. Both of of those factors can contribute to a richer style of Chardonnay. By Jingo! describe theirs as having citrus and icing sugar characters.
I have a bit of a gripe with their naming choice. The clone is named for the region in Argentina in which it is believed to have originated, and hence it’s an Australian wine with the name of a non-Australian wine region prominently printed across the front label, a practice once widespread throughout the industry here but now largely stamped out. That said, they’re certainly not trying to pass off their wine as anything other than Australian Chardonnay, and most Australian consumers who know the region Mendoza will likely also have heard of the clone, so it’s perhaps only an issue if they export to South America.
Back to the wine at hand, in the glass, it is clear and bright, with a dark ruby colour and quick legs. On the nose it’s clean and developing, with medium intensity and notes of red fruit – cherries and plums – sweet spice, some star anise, and a bit of potpourri. On the palate it’s dry, with medium acidity, medium soft, mouth coating tannins, medium plus intensity, medium plus alcohol, medium body, and a medium minus length. There are notes of cherries and plums, and a cocoa powder taste and texture. The texture might be down to it not being filtered and me not properly decanting, though it is by no means unpleasant.
I don’t taste Montepulciano often, but I had a look back at what I wrote about the one I tasted in December and was pleased to see the tasting note was more similar than different. I’m happy giving this wine a rating of very good. The fruit is still fresh, even after three years in oak, but some developed notes are certainly coming through. The time in oak I think is what sets it apart from how this grape is traditionally handled in Italy, and as such while it’s drinking nicely right now, I would expect it to cellar well for at least a few more years in contrast to the drink now style of Italian Montepulcianos. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of their range released, particularly varieties I have not yet tried.
First year out and we receive 4 stars – James Halliday Wine Companion 2013
Marketing Manager, Annick Bahen talks about her accidental success with In-Business South Australia – June/July 2012
Philip White gives a stella review of our prized 2006 By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Montepulciano – May 2012
$120; 13.8% alcohol; screw cap; only 30 doz. made, 95+ points
Monte is the second-biggest Italian red grape in plantings. They avoid it in the cooler alpine north, as it struggles to ripen there, but it loves most of the rest of Italy, and makes great wine if properly respected. So it may seem strange that this tiny vineyard on the stony east side of the South Mount Lofty Ranges leads the charge in Australia. And lead the charge it does. This is a beautiful wine: perfectly matured and settled, luxurious without being voluptuous, and built around a youthfully athletic, sinuous frame of natural acidity and the mildest closing tannins. It has aromas like fresh unroasted coffee beans, cloves, and quince syrup, but these have become so inextricably entwined and harmonic with the years that none seem obvious. Maybe it’s best to say that this is NOT “fruit-driven” wine – it is far from your alcoholic fruitbomb. This is honest-to-Bacchus wine-driven wine. If it reminds of anything outside of the best of Italy’s versions, it has a form that brings Vega Sicilia to mind, which is off the wall but fair dinkum. But this is a more lissome thing, and to me, more appetizing. It is a serious gastronomic wonder. Winemaker John Gilbert is releasing his 2008 at the same time. This has much of the abovementioned wonder, but still shows memories of fresh fruits (Marello cherries) and really needs another couple of years. Its alcohol (14.2%) is a little more obvious, so I’ll be surprised if it ever gets quite as royally sexy as the more measured and polished 2006. $55; 100 doz., 92++ points
Adelaide Hills Magazine, Autumn 2012 edition the Toads chose the 2009 By Jingo! Montepulciano Zinfandel – April 2012
Stewart Noble of Sydney Hills Lifestyle Magazine reviews the By Jingo! Montepulciano – April 2012
What do you get when you take a quirky winery and a rare Italian red grape variety? One of the best red wines I’ve had… that’s what! I’ve enjoyed both the 2006 and 2008 releases and they are both exceptional! Given the 06 has almost sold out and is $65 a bottle more than the 08 then the smart buyer would go the 08. The 06 was a superior vintage though so the choice is yours!
The Weekender Herald, Heather Britton meets up with By Jingo! at 2012 Cellar Door Wine Festival and reviews 2009 By Jingo! Southern Fleurieu Mendoza Chardonnay and 2009 By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Montepulciano Zinfandel - 30 March 2012
John Gilbert has more than one label, and has found his niche producing alternative varieties that are full of character.
One point of difference is the grillo he brought in from Sicily 10 years ago, which has the riesling spectrum of flavours but grows well in a warmer climate.
His 2009 By Jingo Mendoza Chardonnay from the Southern Fleurieu ($42) is complex, with pronounced stone-fruits and citrus and judicious oak.
The 2009 Montepulciano Zinfandel ($48) from Mt Barker is unfiltered, with good earthy character, leather and tannins, and a velvety mouthfeel.
GenXY Wines, Graham Hastings reviews 2008 By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Montepulciano and 2008 By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Zinfandel – February 2012
By Jingo Montepulciano 2008
Purchased: Not ($55)
(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Bronze Medal at Adelaide Hills Wine Show 2011, unfiltered, 36 months in French oak casks, aromatic and powerful core of red cherry, raspberry and dark plums with leather, olive and forest floor notes, rounded medium-full bodied palate with a bedrock of savoury, chalky tannins, good acid spine and toasty oak spices, plenty of drive and character, better than a lot of the Italian Montepulcianos I’ve drunk over the years (****1/2)
By Jingo Zinfandel 2008
Purchased: Not ($42)
(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, unfiltered, ripe and varietal tapestry of red and blue fruits with violet and warm oak spice notes, medium-full bodied with rich earthy, savoury undertones and persistent dusty tannins, bonus for using French oak and keeping the alcohol levels to a respectable level, in California and Puglia it often gets pumped up over 16% (****)
Wine without BS, Stewart Noble reviews 2006 By Jingo! Adelaide Hills Montepulciano ‘Most memorable wine of 2011′ – 12 January 2012
Before I start, I need to confess that I somehow lost my tasting notes for this wine but am pressing ahead anyway as this wine more than deserves a spot on my blog and easily earned its place in my ‘Most Memorable Wines of 2011‘
Australian made Montepluciano’s are few and far between but coincidentally I had recently tried another Aussie Monte’s a week or so before trying the By Jingo. It took but one sip of the 06 By Jingo Montepulciano to know I was drinking something pretty bloody awesome. There was definitely a ‘wow’ moment after sip number two and the bottle didn’t last as long after that! It has such a gorgeous flavour that I can’t relate back to any other wine I’ve tried before. It was completely different to the other Montepulciano I had the week before that is also from a South Australian producer.
Being lucky enough to have a bottle of the 08 also around at the time I took it along to a staff tasting I held for Google Australia, as part of Google Wine Week+. I remember a staff member yelling out to me ‘What is this?’ pointing to the bottle of By Jingo 08 Montepulciano, then saying ‘It’s fantastic!’. I only got a tiny taste of the 2008 vintage before the staff polished it off, but it would seem the reaction to it from several Googlers meant they had just as high an opinion of the 2008 as I do of the 2006. As a result of that tasting I’d also like to ad that this wine is vegan friendly and apologise to the staff member who missed out given I only learnt of this fact the day after the tasting.
I should add that it was actually days after I had tasted it that I learnt it’s price and admit to being somewhat surprised to see it was over $100. After pondering the price point for a while I realised that I’ve had plenty of $100+ wines that I cannot even remember… but I’ll remember this one for a long time to come I am sure!
By Jingo 2006 Montepulciano
Price – $120 from By Jingo Wines
Region – Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Final Sip – Do yourself a favour and try this wine before the 30 cases made have sold out. If the price is still getting in the way then try the 2008 as it is less than half the price! Alternatively keep an eye out for my upcoming Rare and Odd varieties wine dinner, as you can bet your Montepulciano it’ll be there!
Philip White reviews By Jingo’s first release – 11 August 2011
By Jingo Southern Fleurieu Mendoza Chardonnay 2009
Rating: 93+ points
By Jingo Adelaide Hills Montepulciano Zinfandel 2009
Rating: 94++ points