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Archive for December, 2014

The house is spotless, music is selected and delicious treats await your guests. Yes – it’s party time! But the big question remains – how will you select the best range and style of wines to complement your do? Well of course there are a number of different types of gatherings, from the rowdy get-together with mates, to the classic dinner party or cocktail soirée. At Taylors Wines, we’re rather fond of a knees-up ourselves, and certainly ensure that the wines selected are perfect for our guests. Here are our best tips for getting your wine selection right for your next event.

Crowd pleasers

Taylors Estate SparklingYou hear them before you see them sometimes… Those initial guests approaching your informal shindig on the deck. Over the sounds of the acoustic duo in the corner, those throaty laughs and tottering heels can be heard approaching the door. Then fairy lights are gleaming in the eyes of the crowd, as the numbers swell and the music starts to lift the party tempo. Now, you might be wondering which wine will be perfect to kick-start proceedings. Well, with all of this fresh and vital energy on your deck, what better way to start your party than with some crisp bubbles? Our signature sparkling, the Taylors Estate Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Cuvee, provides the essence of citrus freshness, backed up on the mid palate with smooth notes of butter and vanilla.

Keeping with the white wine theme for several hours, you can provide a no-fail selection of Moscato, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc to match the light and summery morsels on your menu. With these choices, you can even take advantage of the temperature scale in our fresh new-look whites in the Taylors range. So, indoor or outdoor, you’ll be able to get your serving temperatures just right.

Later when everyone is getting a little philosophical down around the fire pit, a smooth red like the St Andrews 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon will be the perfect wind-down drop.

That subtler style

Now it tends to happen that as we grow up, our parties can become a little quieter. Not that we’ve become ‘mild’ rather that ‘wild’… it’s more a matter of starting to appreciate the finer things. And that’s when the magic of dinner parties comes to the fore. Candlelight, some cool music on the surround sound, and your guests are ready to enjoy proceedings. As the first course commences, an aromatic Riesling will prove the perfect accompaniment to delicious salads, light meat dishes and summer seafood ensembles.

Taking the night forward, the talk tends to liven up as friends old and new connect on the issues of the day. The main dish provides a chance to get adventurous and team that gorgeous savoury number with a bottle or two of a perfectly blended red.

Our 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc from the Taylors Winemaker’s Project will delight all palates, with blackcurrant and plum notes melding beautifully with your feast.

And as the chat and laughter continues into the night, you can match chocolate, fruit and cheeses with both structured whites and smoother reds. For example, a classic cheese fondue (not that we’re showing our age!) will be best friends with a younger Chardonnay. And you certainly can’t go wrong with a 2012 St Andrews Shiraz to bring your terrific night to a close.

Mingling moments

Cocktail parties, buffet events and wine soirées have their own special magic. These ‘stand and mingle’ parties provide a number of unique benefits. Firstly, everybody has a chance to don their sequined numbers, lounge suits and coiffed hair, then walk about – and actually be seen! Waiters can start by bringing round that fail-safe, icy delight of a great Australian sparkling. This is the domain of canapés, where those glasses of bubbles cut beautifully across delicious and mysterious bites. Whether pastry, balsamic capers, caviar, or salmon with soft cheese – there’s no canapé that a well-structured sparkling can’t handle. Chandeliers glitter and glances are exchanged across the room. Those swishing skirts and alluring jewels move effortlessly about, as a selection of classic whites and light reds are then presented.

Consider the sophisticated elegance of the Taylors Estate Chardonnay, its enticing white peach, citrus and tropical fruit flavours overlaying toasted cashew and creamy nuances from fine French oak will prove irresistible. Red wine aficionados will be swept away by a younger Tempranillo or an opulent Merlot. These standing soirées tend to be short but memorable. And with your array of tantalising and creative refreshments, this is one ‘happening’ that will be spoken of for quite some time.

The party art

There are a couple of key elements to the perfect party. And remember – good preparation will prevent your blood pressure rising on the night. Even that casual deck party needs ice, plates and cutlery! Also consider your guests, and how the food and wine might complement this crowd – relaxed and young? Professional and quiet? When selecting your wine, you can take into account the length of time before eating and how this might impact upon your choices. Food of course is key, as is the season. Make sure that hot summer nights have a greater white to red ratio (unless you’re concocting luscious chilled sangria). And where canapés or tapas are the order of the day, a pleasant sparkling or light Moscato might be the perfect selection. But most importantly, as the guests wander in – relax. You’ve prepared well. Now let the party begin!

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As the weather begins to warm, a natural restlessness can tend to kick in.  So, what better time to shake up your wine selection with something a little new? With something fresh and perhaps a touch unusual? We think it’s a perfect time for us to showcase one of the newer white grapes being cultivated in Australia – Vermentino. A Mediterranean grape of medieval heritage, Vermentino is a wine of delicious, citrusy crispness with awe-inspiring food-matching capabilities.

Inspired voyage

wine-vermentinoIt’s interesting that we think of Vermentino as ‘new’ in terms of Australian winegrowing experience, yet it is certainly ‘old’ in the grand scheme of world winemaking. Like most wines, there is a bit of an historical tussle about the exact provenance of Vermentino grapes. In all likelihood, cuttings of the Vermentino vine first went from Spain to Italy in the 1300s. Medieval sailors took this precious botanical cargo to the Ligurian Coast, via the rocky island of Sardinia. With only 11km between Sardinia and the French isle of Corsica, it was inevitable that this promising white vine also made its way up into Corsica and through the greater French wine regions.

With all of this sea travel, it is perhaps not surprising that Vermentino goes by many names in Europe, such as Rolle and Favorita. But it was the Italians – led by the Liguria and Sardinia regions – who embraced and developed Vermentino to its magnificent best. Winemakers there became excited and encouraged by the striking golden wine that began to emerge from this hardy white varietal. Importantly, Vermentino handled heat like a champion, maintaining acidic balance and flavour integrity in the warmest of Mediterranean seasons. With a tang of citrus plus a fresh maritime minerality, Vermentino became a perfect companion for those long al fresco evenings of Italian seafood and antipasto under the stars.

Old and new

Now Australia, like many other nations, took a little longer than Italy to discover the promise of Vermentino. The first vines began to be planted here in the 1990s, as Australian vintners recognised the hardiness and heat-handling capabilities of this aromatic white. It is a testament to the character and quality of this grape that even in this short time, Vermentino has been moving from an obscure ‘alternative’ varietal to one that is becoming a go-to summer drop for discerning Australian consumers. With parts of our climate emulating the warm and breezy Mediterranean regions, Vermentino has once more travelled across the seas to find a new land in which to shine.  And at Taylors Wines, one of our greatest joys is sourcing fine Australian grape varietals – old and new – and working to create premium wines of quality and integrity.TWP_VER_bottle-CMYK(A4)

Lovely summer drop

Our winemakers have taken the ‘old’ aspects of Vermentino’s Mediterranean heritage and combined them with the very best of Australian growing conditions and oenology.

Within our TWP range, we’ve been drawn instinctively to the possibilities for Australian Vermentino grapes to deliver extraordinary white wines. Knowing that the SA Riverland region produces champion fruit, we source the best of the Vermentino crops from this region for our TWP maestros to work with.

Now the way that we work here is by respecting the past as well as embracing the best that the modern era of winemaking offers. Analysing the fruit in the field gives us the opportunity to apply classic techniques, such as early morning cool harvest and initial whole berry pressing.

Then, with an eye to the delicate flavours of the Vermentino, appropriate yeast strains are painstakingly selected for the cold fermentation. Throughout vinification, our wine makers utilise state-of-the-art techniques to preserve the fine balance and textural nuances of this fine white.

And sure – they sometimes develop a friendly rivalry as they work tirelessly towards revelation of Vermentino’s many virtues… but that’s okay! As we find across the TWP range, our keen winemakers are passionate in their pursuit of an excellent drop, hewn from an unbeatable combination of heritage, technology and beautiful fruit.

An Italian pairing

Vermentino creates a wondrous match with a wide selection of foods. Interestingly, a complex mid palate and that fine acidic tone both work together to facilitate perfect pairing – not only with light summer food, but also with some more full-flavoured morsels. So feel free to team your Vermentino with a spicy laksa, chorizo tapas or well-herbed barramundi. In fact, across the board of seafood cuisine, Vermentino is a loving partner to your entire summer catch of crustaceans, mackerel, calamari and oysters. And of course that hearty Italian platter of antipasto, replete with marinated artichoke hearts, semidried tomatoes, sardines, and chilli olives, absolutely begs for accompaniment with a crisp and lime-tinged Vermentino. Before you know it, you’ll think you’re sipping away on a pristine Sardinian headland, watching the aqua Mediterranean roll gently by… sigh…

 New seasons

It’s safe to say that we continue to be excited and delighted about the quality of our Australian Vermentino. This is a wine that brings to mind freshness, new beginnings and breezy summer enjoyment. With a clarity and structure that sees Vermentino’s fine acidity hold across even the most challenging season, this is a white to be enjoyed in the prime of its younger years. Buon Apetito!

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You might have heard of a phrase in education: ‘lifelong learning’. The idea is that your wellbeing improves if you keep learning new things right across your lifespan. Well, when it comes to learning new and innovative ways to grow grapes and make premium wines, we here at Taylors Wines are happy to be known as lifelong scholars. That’s because we humbly recognise that for the craft of viniculture – studied and applied by humans for at least the last 8,000 years – one whole lifetime couldn’t be long enough to learn all that there is to know. So we stay diligently up-to-date with the latest developments in wine craft, doing the best we can to ensure quality and refinement across everything that we do.

Learning at the edge

Like many practices since the early 20th century, viniculture has been greatly enhanced by incredible leaps in technology. At Taylors, we examine and trial new trends in viniculture with a view to continuously improving the taste, quality and integrity of our wine ranges. And because of our proven commitment both to the land and to overall vineyard health, we insist that any innovations not only avoid harming the environment, but also actually put something back. We’re learning more each day about the potential to improve our outputs, both in the vineyard and back at the winery. And that’s great news for enjoyers of wine, who can count on us staying at the cutting edge of developments in wine growth and development.

Developments in precision viticulture

Precision viticulture (PV) is a concept that started to gain traction in Australian winegrowing a few years ago (and just to avoid confusion – viticulture is about growing all types of grapes, for wine, the table and juice, while the term viniculture refers exclusively to wine grape production). The concept of ‘PV’ might seem ridiculously simple – basically, it’s about adapting your practices to suit varying vineyard requirements. Yet for too long in Australia, viticulturists and other primary producers have spent too much time fighting or ignoring the microclimatic realities within and across their paddocks. Precision viticulture promotes the harnessing of new technologies, such as GPS, high-res soil surveys, yield monitoring and remote sensors, in order to provide us grape growers with unbeatable data about individual vine needs. This technology can provide an enormous amount of precise information on moisture levels, soil issues, pest presence, pruning needs, and wind factors, for example. And the outcome for fruit quality and yield can be, well, simply outstanding.

GPS for wine?!

Now this approach isn’t about replacing people with machines – nothing comes close to the five senses, or to a producer’s personal affinity with their vines!

But if we can use technology to learn more about the subtleties of our soil, our vines, and our fruit, then our decisions about growth, harvest and vinification are going to be better informed.

You might ask what does this all mean for premium wine offerings, such as those in our award-winning collection? Well, it means our winemakers are presented with simply impeccable fruit that has been grown on carefully nurtured vines – each planted for optimum results. Water, nutrition and protection needs have been observed and acted on appropriately throughout the entire growth cycle. Plus, harvest has occurred at precisely the perfect time for each varietal. And the environment has received as little burden as possible, with wastage and overplanting issues eliminated. Our winemakers then have the opportunity to work with grapes that they’ve monitored closely right throughout growth and harvest. This gives them the ability to make vinification and fermentation decisions that are perfectly matched to the nuances of each particular vintage. Pretty heady stuff!

And, technological advances are happening all the time. The exciting innovations being talked about in viniculture might sometimes seem a bit pie in the sky – until you start to see examples of new technology coming into being.vineyard-tractor

Pinpointing vine stress

For instance, we were intrigued to hear earlier this year of a device being developed by a West Australian researcher, which monitors real-time vine stress. Now, we all know what a wilting plant looks like – but in the commercial vineyard, it pays to know about any water stress that vines are experiencing long before such visible signs emerge.

Bringing those grapes in pristine, succulent style to the winery is a skill that requires relentless monitoring of moisture, nutrient, pest and weather variables across the growing season. We need all the help available! So, it’s certainly exciting that Associate Professor Rafiei over at UWA is developing a real-time intelligent sensor water stress device that will do a whole lot better than humans at detecting precisely when the vines are under strain from the dry. And irrigation for such vines at exactly the right time prevents the avoidable problems with grape yield and quality if such stress goes undetected for too long.

Water is a constant issue for us primary producers. With innovations such as this emerging, we can conserve water though efficient use, while also enhancing grape yield and quality. That’s got to be a win-win!

Learning every day

We could certainly wax lyrical long into the night about the tremendous innovations coming through in viniculture. You might have guessed that at Taylors Wines, we’re excited to learn everything that we can about how to bring the best fruit from the vineyard straight to our winemakers.

The overall trends of precision viticulture, plus developments like the real-time water stress device, give us confidence that technology for winegrowers is improving every day.

Suffice to say, here in Auburn we intend to stay on the edge of technology, ensuring that our vines are tended and our wines created with knowledge of the best innovations available. If we reduce wastage, improve soil, enhance fruit and deliver premium wines… then every little bit of our learning is worth the effort. We can all raise a glass to that!

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