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Archive for May, 2014

In a couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing the next vintage of Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – the 2013.  The wine has developed a ‘cult following’ since the first vintage release – the ’73.  Back then, the Taylor family were convinced the terroir of our Clare Valley estate could produce red wines of a pedigree to match those from the ‘old-world’ vineyards of Europe.  Taylors also released a Shiraz in 1973 but it was known as ‘Hermitage’ back then.  Whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon is the great love for Bill Taylor, Shiraz is a quintessential Aussie wine and a firm favourite of the general populous.  When Taylors decided to also plant some Merlot in 1995, the trinity was complete.  Over the last 45 years, Taylors has really become synonymous with quality red wines which is probably why our special cellar door Red Hot Red pack is such a popular item.

Taylors Red Hot Red pack

Taylors Red Hot Red pack

The pack contains a bottle each of the Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz and the Merlot and is a fine way to compare and contrast the individual natures of these three noble varieties.  The pack was created to celebrate the launch of the first vintage release of Taylors Estate Merlot – the ’98.  It caused quite a sensation and our phone rang hot with retailers calling to order the new packs.  It was kind of fitting that the Red Hot Red pack was first available in the year 2000; it was a new millennium and it also marked a real shift in the winemaking approach for these red wine favourites.  At that time, a new winemaker had joined the ranks, one Adam Eggins, who brought with him a new philosophy borne out of many years’ experience in crafting champagne and sparkling wine; ‘respect the fruit’.  It was an ‘old world’ philosophy that valued keeping the fruit in as pristine condition as possible, handling the fruit gently to minimise maceration and contact with unwanted phenolic characters – particularly those from stalk tannins.  The first thing he did was to order the removal of all crushers from the winery.  Taylors would only de-stem, there was to be no more crushing of grapes!  The idea was to try to get as many whole berries into the fermenters as possible, thereby avoiding the juice coming into contact with these unwanted phenolic or bitter tannins.  The effect of this major operational grape processing change was noticed almost immediately by the wine judges and the gold medals and trophies started rolling in.  The Taylor family, spurred on by positive international success, funded a winery expansion project in 2007 and the new facility was processing grapes in 2010 with every facet engineered to protect and preserve the quality of the grape.  The result of this innovation has been the ability of our winemaking team to craft world-class wines that have continued to enjoy much international acclaim.

At the time of writing, the wines contained within the Red Hot Red pack; The Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz and the Merlot have amassed a collective total of 118 gold medals, 15 trophies, 3 platinum medals, and 975 other awards, including Category Champion, Judge’s Choice, and Outstanding Value awards.  These wonderful endorsements demonstrate the success of this simple but unerring commitment to the ‘respect the fruit’ philosophy and to crafting outstanding wines of the highest possible quality and style; all for our pleasure and enjoyment…..how wonderful!

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Well folks, vintage is now officially finished for 2014!  The wines we’re crafting from this year’s harvest will start to make their way into the marketplace from around July this year.  Hard to believe that the gorgeous glass of Clare Valley Riesling you might be sipping in spring this year came from grapes that were still hanging on the vine less than 6 months earlier!  Of course this is the case only with the unwooded aromatic white varieties.  The voluptuous Chardonnays and full-bodied reds you will have to wait a little longer for; we like to keep them tucked up nice and warm in our barrel hall for maturation.

Flooding on front lawn of winery – Feb 2014

This vintage was a rather drawn out affair – mainly due to the up and down weather conditions.  We started picking grapes in early February and the weather was quite warm but around Valentine’s Day it turned on us and we were drenched with rain.  Significant falls occurred from Thursday 13th February through to Saturday with flash flooding occurring through the district on Friday afternoon during the heaviest falls – not a lot of Valentine’s Day love felt for Mother Nature that day!  The weather improved after that but remained quite mild which slowed the ripening process quite significantly.  Whilst this was quite frustrating for the vineyard team, who are always keen to pick before the weather has a chance to turn again, the winemakers were happy that the grapes were allowed to develop their unique flavours at a more moderate pace.  If ripening occurs too quickly, the sugars develop ahead of the tannins and this often means that the end wines can be out of balance.

Through March we steadily continued the harvest, picking all of the white varieties on the Clare Valley estate and started to bring in the fruit from our grower partners in other regions across South Australia.  One particular week saw us process around 12% of our total intake in a matter of 7 days!   Our experienced teams who took this very intensive period in their stride, dealing with a whopping 452 tonnes of fruit received across a 30 hour period.  One of the greatest advantages our winemakers have is the ability to quickly harvest and process fruit when it is in its optimal flavour development stage – not having this capacity at the winery could adversely affect the quality of the fruit coming in and ultimately, of course, the wine.

Harvesting on Clare Valley estate

Harvesting on the Taylors Clare Valley estate

Harvest continued steadily into April with perfect, mild conditions prevailing until the third week when the weather in the Clare Valley turned decidedly cooler with the region receiving a couple of downpours.  The rain meant that harvesting was halted for a couple of days but the vineyard team were quickly back into it once it stopped.  The last fruit to came in was the Cabernet Sauvignon on the 30th April 2014.  By this time all of the white wines had completed fermentation and most of the reds were into secondary fermentation.  At this early stage, the winemakers are reporting that based on the quality of the fruit harvested, they expect the wines from 2014 to be worthy successors of the excellent 2012 and 2013 vintages – good news indeed!

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