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Archive for July, 2014

It’s true that our winemakers here at Taylors work hard each season to create memorable wines. And we do our best to provide them with the best fruit, resources and working environment to enable them to bring to life our award-winning range. But we also know that there’s another, more subtle input that’s tied into our winemaking success – creative flair.

To nourish the artisan hearts of our winemakers, we’ve developed the Taylors Winemaker’s Project (TWP). The project allows our people to work with some of the newest trends in wine craft, and produce wine that is exciting, but that might not necessarily fit our existing range. These offerings find a home in our niche TWP range.

St. Andrews ShirazOur winemakers are always taking care to research the latest techniques in vinification, plus the most current advances in varietal development and usage. So, through TWP they get to tap in to the possibilities for lesser known varieties, plus experiment with various innovative techniques that have captured their imaginations. It’s our way of giving them room to run with their exciting, cutting-edge ideas – while at the same time providing our loyal followers with the very best in creative wine experiences.

Our artisans at work

The project unfolds exclusively here at our Clare Valley winery where a small selection of the best fruit is identified for involvement in a TWP creation. Our winemakers will have keenly watched the season and kept tabs on the performance of both regular and unusual grape varieties. They’ll have been obsessively interested in growth conditions across both central Clare Valley and surrounding sub-regions. And long before harvest, they’re concocting theoretical combinations in their minds, eagerly anticipating the emerging possibilities. When the time is right, a small amount of the best grapes from low-cropping vines are earmarked for an exclusive journey through the creative TWP world.

And we’re pretty proud of our teamwork in terms of creative flow from this point. The TWP opportunity sure opens up diverse and sometimes competing views on what can best be created for the bottle. But here at Taylors we’re happy to (gently!) thrash out our wilder ideas together, until a plan is in place for a new and unique TWP offering.

Expect the unexpected

Part of the appeal of the project to our winemakers is that they get to use unusual varietals, plus mix and match more regular ones in surprising and unexpected ways.

A classic example is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc (known as the CMMC).

Having sourced a little of the best of the estate low-yielding crops, the twist of Cabernet Franc was then added to this exclusive mix. Initially fermented at quite low temperatures, the CMMC was then carefully subjected to a second malo-lactic fermentation in our premium French oak barrels.

And just wait till you taste the results. The deep aromatics and fine, long tannins in the glass draw together CMMC’s quite extraordinary rich berry flavours and gentle herbal notes. You’ll be forgiven for drifting out of any conversation with this wine in your glass!

And that’s what TWP is really all about. Our winemakers are simply dying to take you on an exciting wine adventure, part of which they’ve already begun during the exacting vinification processes. They not only choose fantastic, diverse fruit, but they also experiment with extremely cool and unusual ways to bring each unique batch to bottling. You might think it’s a little coy of us not to deliver a package of neat, comprehensive information about TWP methods. But there is no one method, and that’s really the point. Each carefully selected batch of source material speaks to our gifted winemakers in different ways, on every separate TWP adventure.

While TWP is certaTWP winesinly a recognisable wine range, there’s an unusual beauty in knowing that each TWP offering is a bespoke and singularly charismatic creation. It might be around for one vintage only or sneak back into the range for a season or two like the CMMC, which is about to be released for a second time, or the Vermentino, which is also in its second vintage.

Like our winemakers, there’s a bit of mystery and a touch of the unknowable across our Taylors Winemaker’s Project creations. What is concrete is that each bottle carries within it the best fruit and the best wine-craft available – plus a little ‘something special’ that’s hard to put your finger on, and we’re fairly sure comes from the freedom to roam freely with fresh ideas.

Giving them wings

We mentioned at the beginning that at Taylors, we feel it’s so important to give our most creative brains the room that they need to mix up a little wine alchemy. That’s why we brought to the TWP to life. But it’s not just our winemakers who are given wings to fly. The TWP wines give our followers a chance to also cut loose and have a slightly edgier wine moment or two. To maybe consider a little Vermentino with the veal, or perhaps a dash of Mataro in the mix…or even try a saucy blend of four fabulous red varietals all in one cheeky quartet.

Having access to some unusual varietals gives enjoyers of wine the chance to live a little, and to break any old habits related to what goes into the glass. You really never know what you might discover. The TWP is all about taking risks and remembering the magic that really is at the heart of wine appreciation.

And we think you’ll fall in love with the special, one-off creations that our winemakers create through their limited edition TWP endeavours.

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We’re not afraid to say it – it’s a really exciting time to be working with Chardonnay. And while we’re at it, how about we just name that tiresome elephant in the room right away? Yes, we acknowledge that this versatile white grape copped an extensive pounding to its reputation in the 1990s. And we think that there still might be a few ‘doubting Thomases’ out there, who aren’t particularly inclined to give Chardonnay another go. Well to help change your mind, let us take you on a bit of a guided tour through the nature of this gorgeous variety. And we’ll follow it up with an update on some of the exciting innovations that we’re bringing into play for the Taylors Chardonnays. We can absolutely guarantee that you’ll come across some superb surprises when exploring this beautiful white.

A noble variety

Now we mean this quite literally: Chardonnay is formally considered one of the ‘noble’ grape varieties, due to the superior quality of the wine that can be expected across a wide selection of grape-growing terrains. Chardonnay also demonstrates the enviable ability to pick up and distinctively deliver the local terroir, through subtle variations of minerality, bouquet and texture.

Beautiful Chardonnay

Beautiful Chardonnay

Like most great wines, there are of course squabbles about exactly where and when Chardonnay originated. And not even just the Europeans have tried to lay claim – as well as France and Croatia, Lebanon and Cyprus have also put forward claims about Chardonnay’s botanical provenance! Without doubt however, the Burgundy region of eastern France can take pride in producing some of the earliest and best examples of Chardonnay wine. And look – whatever the ‘truth’, the great thing about such passionate debates over wine origins is that they reflect that burning human desire to be part of something special. With Chardonnay, this has been magnified by the high quality and robust nature of this round and textured white.

Whilst at times a flavour chameleon, the Chardonnay often distinguishes itself across all geography with a magnificent and subtle flintyness, as well as a tendency towards flavoursome stone fruit characters. And due to regular displays of complexity across the palate, this noble white has the capacity to pair with a wide selection of foods, from spiced and herbed white meats to mature cheeses, fragrant curries and beyond.

Exciting stuff – Our clonal changes

In order to harness the beauty of the Chardonnay grape to her best advantage, at Taylors we’ve become deeply selective about sourcing the correct clonal variations to suit both our particular growing conditions and our signature winemaking methods. Getting technical, we have moved away from what is known as the Mendoza (or Gin Gin) clone, now favouring Bernard and Savvy clones for our Chardonnay requirements. In combination, the two Bernard clones that we favour (I10V1 and I11V1) and the Savvy clones 1 and 2, work together with their less dense structures to deliver incredible diversity and fruit complexity. Our project to identify and swap clonal identities where appropriate for our Chardonnay needs has involved 10+ years of painstaking trials. And it’s been more than worth the effort.

In drinking terms our Chardonnays are lighter in palate structure and weight, yet maintain a remarkable capacity to exhibit lots of fresh fruit and varietal expression. Also, it’s a stroke of luck that these clonal changes have coincided with upgrades to our fruit handling, including the gentler art of whole berry pressing. And it might seem the stuff of dreams, but we’re now incredibly happy to be creating Chardonnays that are simultaneously delicate in structure yet rich in both flavour and complexity.

Sticklers for the details – the perfect oak

We aren’t just particular about the clonal and fruit handling aspects of our Chardonnay creation. Less-worthy Chardonnays across the globe were once understandably labelled as ‘too oaky’, with some winemakers getting it all a bit wrong with inappropriate barrelling and oak chipping. Here at Taylors we’re extremely selective – ok, some might say finicky! – about our Chardonnay barrelling processes. For a start, we’ve researched and sourced the best French oak barrels on the planet. And it has to be French – lesser oaks have unfortunately added too much unsubtle strength to Chardonnay, causing some of the problems of reputation that used to exist for this wine.

Over centuries, the Burgundians in France have worked tirelessly with Chardonnay and Pinot, perfecting the craft of assembling the most worthy barrels for their wine-making task. And it’s that sort of exactitude that we know is right for the Taylor Chardonnays.

Medium-fine to fine-grain oak is crucial for subtle and restrained flavour across the palate, and the correct timber is therefore carefully sourced. As well as timber selection, the French also address such subtleties as barrel shape plus the distance of the flame from the barrel during production; too much flavour in the barrel toast and the wine can become unbalanced. In fact, even the individual forest of the oak’s origin can assist in developing particular complexities – for example, we know that the mouth-filling creamy softness of Vosges timber is an excellent choice for Chardonnay. Accurate combinations from different forests also allow us to perfect necessary subtleties across vintages, through careful barrel selection.

Worth the effort

St. Andrews Chardonnay

St. Andrews Chardonnay

If you haven’t already, take a sip or two of one of our gorgeous Chardonnays – the delicious and nuanced 2013 St Andrews Chardonnay for example – to experience for yourself the incredible lightness and flavour that has been brought about by our changes. We reckon it’s worth getting every little detail perfect.

As you can see, we take seriously every step of the journey for our beloved Chardonnays. Light in structure yet beautifully complex across the palate, our range demonstrates the delicious fruit and subtle toast that makes it all worthwhile. Just picture it… a setting sun, nice company, some spicy hors douvres and a cool, well-textured Chardonnay. Life couldn’t get much better than that!

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The thing about a passionate and dedicated family business like Taylors is that we love a good challenge.  A good example of this is achieving the 100% carbon neutral standard on our Eighty Acres range of wines. We were actually  the world’s first winery to succeed at meeting this globally recognised ISO standard. Some out there might question why we’d bother to put the time and effort into meeting the exacting ISO14044 markers required for this goal. Well, to understand a bit about this journey and why we know it’s important, first let’s put this achievement into the context of what we do day in and out.

Respecting what you love

Basically, we’re pretty blessed to be able to grow grapes and make our wines  from vines grown across some of the most beautiful valleys and hillsides in Australia.

Clinton Taylor and his children planting trees.

Clinton Taylor and his children planting trees.

The way we look at it, caring for this environment is like caring for our families – both deserve our focus and stewardship for their ongoing wellbeing. We reckon it’s basically about respect, and facing up to the reality that you tend to get out of things precisely what you put in. As a result, here at Taylors we’ve worked hard over the course of the last 10 years at putting a raft of environmentally-sound practices in place under our extensive Environmental Management System.  This includes a range of efforts aimed at reducing waste , managing energy, and improving efficiency across both our wineries and corporate sites.

Back to basics

Our 100% carbon neutral Eighty Acres range is now a proud part of this push.

The Eighty Acres wines

The Eighty Acres wines

This robust little crop of wines has been a delight since its creation in 2007, even before the ISO standard was achieved. High quality development, down-to-earth flavour integrity and reasonable prices have made our Eighty Acres wines firm favourites since their introduction. The quirky name comes from the Clare Valley eighty acre blocks that were first planted back in 1969. The very first of these blocks was imaginatively called – you guessed it – ‘Eighty Acres’. We like to think our grandfather Bill Taylor was so busy getting those historic first vines into the ground in order to make outstanding wine that he didn’t waste time on fancy paddock names! And so to honour that basic integrity, plus the roots of our down-to-earth wine-making heritage, we’re proud of the name given to the small but mighty Eighty Acres range.

A challenge? Bring it on!

Getting back to our Environmental Management System (also a proud recipient of ISO certification) including the suite of practices that we’ve been putting in place, Taylors began to look at the possibility of working towards 100% carbon neutrality within our business. We knew it wouldn’t be easy – no other winery had achieved this to date! Yet as we mentioned above, we at Taylors really do love a challenge.   First of all we started looking for a business section to work on for this goal. Not surprisingly, the  honeTaylors Wines 100% CarbonNeutral leaf imagest and earthy Eighty Acres range pretty much leapt out at us as the perfect place to start our journey. We then began researching the requirements of the ISO 14044 lifecycle assessment standard. It meant taking a long hard look at our processes and practices in the vineyards and at the winery, across issues as diverse as water usage, transport, recycling and packaging. Slowly but surely we altered and replaced systems so as to improve efficiencies across the life cycle of the products we created. In 2009 we also began offsetting our carbon emissions through other sustainable projects. And there’s no chance of businesses being able to fudge these international standards for a cynical bit of ‘greenwash’. All of our reports and figures were analysed at RMIT, being rigorously assessed by an independent auditor before the ISO14044 could be applied.

That extra bit of special

But the average enjoyer of our fine Eighty Acres range might shrug and say, well – does it change anything in the wine? Maybe not officially…But as you know, we think a lot more goes into good wine beside the ‘official’ ingredients. For a start there’s passion, innovation and of course there’s integrity. We reckon by working so hard to make our gorgeous Eighty Acres range of wines 100% carbon neutral, there might be just a little more of those ingredients in each bottle. You can drink a glass of our Eighty Acres wine knowing that stewardship of the environment has front and centre during all steps of creation.  And you wouldn’t be alone in admiring these wines – they were showcased by invitation at the 2009 Climate Change Conference, and continue to be loved across the world for their pure drinkability.

Our bigger environmental dream

sheep in vineyards

Avoiding pesticides by using sheep to control weeds in the vineyards

Also, Eighty Acres world-first achievement of the 100% carbon neutral ISO lifecycle standard is just one part (and ok, we think a pretty impressive part!) of Taylor’s overall Environmental Action Plan. Along with best practice viticulture and leading-edge water and energy conservation initiatives, we also ‘act locally’ by working on regeneration of the Wakefield River, the lifeblood of our beloved Clare Valley estate. Plus, we’re tireless in our efforts towards further developing organic vineyard care involving mulching, composting and pesticide reduction. Add to these our innovative work towards better, lighter and more environmentally sound packaging and you can start to get a feel for how seriously we take our environmental credentials.

Green for the future

Whether it’s on our rural operations or over in the cities where our larger offices are situated, our green-friendly approach is woven into who we are. Sure, the ISO accreditation for our 100% carbon neutral Eighty Acres range is something that puts a smile on our faces. But even beyond acknowledgement of our efforts, it’s just great to know that such a likeable wine range as Eighty Aces also has the added bonus of hitting well above its weight on the green front. And that’s something we hope the great-grandkids can one day truly celebrate.

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