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Claudia Siron

During unprecedented times, wineries around NSW have been steering their cellar doors online.

With the need for social distancing, virtual tastings have been popping up so wine lovers (and beer and cocktail connoisseurs) around the country can order sampling kits and learn about their favourite tipple at home.

Jeff Aston of Tractorless Vineyard says the best thing about wine is how it brings people together. That’s why he’s creating virtual wine tastings. The chief winemaker says: “I always love hosting tastings at our cellar door in Bowral.

"They’re a chance for people to try a selection of different wines, learn about how we’ve created them, and share their reactions.” Order the tasting package of 50 ml samples of 10 wines. “It’s the ideal size for two people to try each wine,” adds Jeff. From the comfort of your home, you and your friends can watch the tasting guide on YouTube or join one of Jeff’s fun tasting sessions on Facebook Live.

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A friend of mine who lives in the Southern Highlands ordered a pack for me as a gift for my birthday in March. I live in Sydney, and I always dream of visiting the vineyards in the Hunter Valley and other ‘wine countries’ in NSW – so to have the chance to do it from home on my birthday was extra special during the beginning of such bleak times.

Jeff was fast, entertaining, insightful and hysterical in leading the wine tasting. We got to hear about foods that also paired well with the wines – which made me think… perhaps I could host an at-home wine tasting for my family.

That same week, I spoke to Kristy Farrell – Wine Ambassador, Pernod Ricard Winemakers – about the new Jacob’s Creek Better By Half range that launched very recently. I swear to god, March and April this year was a celebration and deep admiration for wine. During our chat, Kristy taught me how to host my very own wine tasting after telling me about the new range that’s perfect for any bubble. reader. I should know, I polished three bottles in two days!

1. What are some of the best food pairings with the new range?


Jacob’s Creek Better by Half range is crisp, light and refreshing. When pairing wine with food you want to either complement, contrast or complete the dish. The best advice for this wine is to pair something to complement the liquid, that is, keeping the dish much like the wine – light and fresh. This could be light seafood dishes and salads with flavours that aren’t too overpowering. You want to complement the wine and enhance the flavours – not only in the wine but in the dish, too.


2. Why is this range perfect for winter?


Jacob’s Creek Better by Half is perfect for any occasion. It’s half the calories and half the alcohol* and still holds a delicious, crisp taste. It’s a great wine choice during winter, with just 36 calories per 100ml serve and half the alcohol. Better by Half makes it easier to moderate when you are looking for a lighter option yet still enjoy a great tasting wine. 


3. Can you tell me about some of the notes/ flavors we can taste in the new range?


o  Better by Half Brut Cuvee: with this sparkling you’ll get hints of green apple, nashi pear, lemon zest and jasmine

o  Better by Half Pinot Grigio: this white wine is full of citrus peel, pear, lemon, white nectarine and floral notes

o  Better by Half Rosé: you’ll find lovely sweet flavours of raspberry, strawberry, rosewater and Turkish delight with this rosé

Claudia Siron wine tasting article bubble. magazine
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4. Can you tell me about the process of creating a brut? 


There are many ways to make a sparkling wine. To make Jacob’s Creek Better by Half Sparkling Brut Cuvee, our winemakers use a process where we gently add Co2 to the wine which is in an airtight sealed tank. The Co2 creates bubbles and is retained in the liquid, creating a wine with beautiful lively bubbles. To then achieve 5.5% ABV, we use a gentle filtration process called reverse osmosis that filters out the alcohol. We are left with a wine that is half the calories and half the alcohol.


5. What regions were the wines made in?

Jacob’s Creek home is in the Barossa Valley where our wines are made including the Better by Half range. Our grapes are sourced from premium wine regions across South Australia


How to host your own tasting


When organising a wine tasting there are a few obvious things you must have – wine, glasses, water and ideally some nibbles! Anything more is nice to have but also depends on how long you have and how in depth you want the tasting to be.


Here are my top tips:


-  Theme it: Create a theme for your tasting. Think about different varieties, styles or even producers from the same region. This will help create structure and make it more engaging for everyone in the tasting

- Tasting mats: Step your tasting up a notch and give your tasters a unique experience where they can see the wines placed on a tasting mat, with a fact or even have a section where they can write notes.

- Research: Research about the wine, the region, winemaking process, and the varietals that you are tasting. Provide unique insights and facts about your wine as well as tips for your guests to take away from the tasting so they feel like they’ve learnt something!

- Encourage feedback: Empower people to talk about what they liked or didn’t like about a wine, and what flavours stood out to them. The wonderful thing about wine is it’s subjective. Everyone’s taste is different, so what one person tastes can be completely different to the next.


*Half the alcohol and half the calories of a Jacob's Creek of same varietal

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