I know that we are all aware that Amazon and Facebook etc track our recent searches and throw out adverts that will get us to click. As someone who regularly Googles various wines I am rarely surprised that wine adverts are a frequent occurrence (even though as an indie wine merchant I myself am restricted in how often, when, and what I can advertise through the same channels - go figure…) But where my hackles have been raised is with the recent influx of print media advertising Jam Shed wines have been putting out there. Perhaps my perception threshold has been dropped so now I’m hyper aware (sorry, now yours will be dropped too and you will start noticing it)
A quick search of these wines will show that they are frequently on offer in the big chains, for around £6 per bottle. If you shop at indies frequently you’ll be aware that £6 is an impossible price to have a sustainable business at. Supermarkets can buy in much bigger bulk, and can mark up other items disproportionately in order to discount these wines so heavily. But that’s not my issue with JS - I know we’d all be doing the same if we could, no one wants to be undercut by a supermarket.
I take umbrage with their marketing techniques. As someone who has studied marketing, I can absolutely see how they work and why they are effective. But as someone who has also studied wine I think they are becoming guilty of “dumbing down” certain grapes and wine in general. The slogans “All Jam No Jargon” and “Make Life Simple” make me cringe ever so slightly. I fully believe in lifting the veil on wines - that’s a big part of the reason I started BLUDGE, but I also believe that lifting does not equate to not thinking about what you’re drinking. Knowledge is power etc.
So I got curious. Why do so many people gravitate towards these wines? I was quite shocked to discover that there are actually 5 wines in the range, not one of which is dry (like about 95% of the wines on my personal shelves) There is a South Eastern Aussie Shiraz, which I believe is the most asked for in indies I’ve worked for in the past, a Malbec which is Argentinian on the bottle but Australian on the Jam Shed website, a “nondescript” Aussie red blend, a Californian Rose (which I can only assume is White Zinfandel judging by the sweetness & alcohol levels) and an Aussie Chardonnay. This variety isn’t too abnormal, it’s very common for winemakers to have their fingers in different countries so to speak (though who knows what the deal with the Malbec is…) but alarm bells started ringing at the ABVs.
Nearly all of them are above 13.5%, and even the Rose is at about 12%, which for a sweet Rose is mad. After much digging, the Shiraz is sitting at around 57g/L of sugar - which is just shy of the sugar content in Sprite. To me, this is strangely infantlising of the wine industry - “Drink this, you’ll probably like it, it’s sweet”
So what’s the point of this? It’s just been annoying me really and I had to do a little deep dive to find out why it was annoying me. No shade on Jam Shed, if I could create a global phenomenon you should be damn sure I would. I think I’d just like it to be a bit more imaginative and a bit like artificial (*shade alarm goes off in the distance*)
Anyways, here are some alternatives you can get from me that aren’t that much more expensive and support an independent business as opposed to Big Wine™. They’ve got the complexity these wines are lacking, but also an explanation of why they are good and why you should support them over JS. Just Sayin’...
Turno de Noche Malbec - The palate is juicy but balanced. Ripe berry fruits are abundant, whilst gentle spice adds dimension. It's weighty with soft, gentle tannins and an enduring fruit charged finish.
Enigma Barbera - Wild berries, rhubarb and custard with a dense and concentrated palate. It opens up to cherry-stone fruit and bitter plum and a long finish with a gentle brick-like texture.
Shadow Point Chardonnay - A modern Cali Chard, it has an appealing salinity with toasted hazelnut aromas. The palate has a stone fruit and struck match structure to it that gives it a gentle minerality.
Shady post over - more light hearted stuff coming soon!