The popularity of Layer Cake really seems to have exploded over the last couple of years, and why wouldn’t it!?!? There’s picture of a delicious looking cake on the front label! People are suckers for good-looking wine labels (myself included).
Layer Cake is a winemaking venture from Jayson Woodbridge (no connection to Woodbridge wine), who first first came onto the radar in 1998, with a little-known wine called Hundred Acre. He shot to stardom in his 3rd vintage, when he received a score of 98 points (out of 100) from Robert Parker (wine god).
Hundred Acre now normally sells for $250+ retail, so not your everyday glugging wine!
The name Layer Cake supposedly comes from Woodbridges’ “grandfather’s comparison of soil to a layer cake”. I don’t doubt it. However Jayson is looking to give international appeal to his wines or brands, and who doesn’t think a wine called "Layer Cake" could possibly be quite delicious? In other words, I think it’s more marketing that it is nostalgia, but I’ve been a cynic from a young age!
Woodbridge produces produces 5 wines from 5 different countries under the Layer Cake label; an Italian Primitivo (Zinfandel), Argentinean Malbec, Californian Chardonnay and Cabernet. The grapes are all sourced from different vineyards in and around each region. In other words, they don’t grow any of their own grapes used to make the wine.
Some argue that quality can sometimes suffer if meticulous grape selection is not used in this kind of winemaking, but for the most part it’s normally used to keep a winery operation more economical. All the more relevant considering this economy.
Place (click for larger view)
South Australia is the named place of origin for the grapes for the Layer Cake Shiraz, and is this teeny-tiny-little 379,000+ sq mile section of …….well..…Southern Australia.
South Australia is about as unspecific as it gets, but you’ll see it used a lot on Australian bottling’s.
Australia is of course renowned for its Syrah/Shiraz (same grape), the dark, thick-skinned grape that is mainly used to make single varietal wines, but often can be blended to add complexity. Shiraz / Syrah is not to be mistaken as being the same grape as Petite Sirah.
Layer Cake sources their grapes primarily from the McLaren Vale wine region. Shiraz is the most widely planted red grape in the McLaren and accounts for more than half of the total production. Chardonnay is the most widely planted white.
Screw-caps are a big deal in the McLaren Vale as most winemakers choose to use them.
The first vines planted in Australia arrived with Europeans in 1788. As it happens, in the 1800’s a vine disease called Phylloxera [Fill-lock-seh-rah] wiped out most of the vines in Europe. Therefore Australia has some of the oldest vines in the world, some of which are more than 100 years old.
McLaren Vale Shiraz vines yield notoriously small grapes. Due to the warm climate the vine tries to preserve its moisture, and therefore you get more skin than juice. This will give way to a wine that is packed full of flavor and raw power (as the majority of flavor is in the skins of grapes).
For more information visit on McLaren Vale, visit the sexy but completely over-designed-website that is: McLarenVale Info
Really interesting nose. Baking spices (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg) straight away, with blackberry and plum (after a bit of vigorous swirling in the glass). Very ripe black fruit on the palate, with bold peppery spice. Dark chocolate, vanilla and persistent complex baking spices (and I’m not just saying that because I still “Layer Cake” in my head).
Stylistically, the Layer Cake range of wines are very similar. Very polished, no rough edges, not exactly always paying huge attention to terroir, but that doesn’t always matter…which some will always disagree with me on.
Lamb, steak, or by itself . Either way, make sure you keep the flavors bold, but the hot spices low. The 14.9% alcohol will make your head explode if you pair this with Steak Vindaloo.
$18 average retail, if you can find it for less pick up a few.