The Tussock Jumper “winery” doesn’t own a vineyard or a production facility, yet the French-based company has built a portfolio of 24 wines from 11 wine-growing regions to become a seemingly overnight sensation.
Basically, Tussock Jumper can provide a global portfolio under one roof, making it an attractive consumer option to purchase diverse terroir-driven wines from Argentina (Cabernet Sauvignon), Australia (Shiraz), Chile (Camenere), France (Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Grenache rose`), Germany (Riesling), Italy (Prosecco, Pinot Grigio), New Zealand (Sauvignon Blanc), Portugal (Vinho Verde, Touriga Nacional), Spain (Moscato, Monatrell), South Africa (Chenin Blanc), and the United States (Zinfandel).
TJ’s strategy is a twist on the French “negociant” model where a merchant buys grapes, bulk wine or finished products from other vineyards and can bottle the wine under his own name. In TJ’s case, however, all the steps to produce a wine, including bottling, are done in the region where the grapes are purchased. The arrangement boosts the local economy and makes stakeholders out of all involved to craft a quality product.
The approach also keeps prices affordable (TJ wines sell in the $11-to-$14 range).
The level of collaboration is reflected in the Tussock Jumper name and branding. “Tussock” is a tuft-like grass found throughout the world yet each species is unique to its region. “Jumper” refers to the 15 regional animals seen on wine labels wearing red (or organic green) “ambassadorial” sweaters. They “jump” from wine to wine. For example, Tussock Jumper’s highly rated Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand boasts a sheep on the label; the California Zinfandel from Lodi, an American buffalo; Australian Shiraz, a koala bear; Chilean Camenere, a lama; Italian Pinot Grigio, a wolf; Pinot Noir from Southern France, a wild boar;, and so on (see the labels at www.tussockjumperwines.com).
Tussock Jumper also sells the wines in 187-milliliter plastic bottles (approximately one glass of wine) that feature a miniature cup attached.
With skyrocketing prices for vineyard land and labor all across the globe, the TJ concept offers passionate and committed people a chance to compete, while also sustaining local economies. Still, the wine must be good. Here’s my take on a recent sampling:
Grenache Rose` 2018, France, $13 – A light, refreshing wine with soft strawberry and red fruit flavors. Fits right in with rose` from this region.
Organic Malbec 2017, Argentina, $14 – A green-sweatered cow defines the no-chemical frills used to produce this fresh, chocolate cherry-flavored red with a really smooth texture.
Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio, Italy, $13 – A very flavorful effort with tropical fruit at its core. Nice and satisfying, unlike some watery versions I’ve experienced.
Prosecco Spumante, Italy, $13 – Made from 100% glera grapes in Treviso, a top DOC quality zone, it exhibits beautiful apple and lemon traits and a bright straw yellow color that sparkles. One of my favorites with a fox on the label.
Pinot Noir 2017, France, $13 – It’s not from Burgundy, but it’s well made and fruity delicious with a vanilla touch on the finish. A three-time medal winner in French regional competitions makes it a huge price-point bargain.
Tussock Jumper wines are new and availability is limited to online sales at Dryzly.com, or by contacting their U.S. importer, Tri-Vin Imports of New York (www.tri-vin.com).
Wine Deals of the Week: The 2017 Kentia Albarino ($9.99) originates from Spain’s top appellation for this varietal, Rias Baixas. Since March, when Decanter magazine selected a Rias Baixas-aged Albarino the world’s No. 1 wine out of 16,000 selections, the area has taken off. Grab these prices while you can for a sensational white that rivals Chardonnay in taste and texture. Also, Domaine De La Guicharde 2017 Cotes du Rhone Rouge ($12.99) is now hitting the Greater Boston market just in time for holiday celebrations. This Grenache-Syrah blend scores well for its intense black fruit flavors, spicy layers, and velvety finish. An incredible buy to pair with roasted lamb or turkey.
Big events: Continuing its “10th Year of Cheers” anniversary celebration, the Wine ConneXtion is going all out this weekend. On Saturday, Oct. 26, a “Deluxe Tasting Event” of exclusive, high-end French, Italian and American wines takes place from 1-4 p.m. Only 100 tickets are available at $50 per person (877-469-5025). The next day, Sunday, Oct. 27, the store’s annual grand tasting of 70 wines will be held from 12-to-4 p.m. The free event is open to the public.