Archive for August, 2015

We all know the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And we certainly understand that when it comes to enjoying premium quality wines, some chaps can be quite wedded to their favourite drop. This Father’s Day though, why not consider presenting Dad with something a bit left-field in the wine department? Challenge him to ‘live a little’ with a lesser-known varietal? We look at a selection of superb alternative wines for you to consider as Father’s Day draws near. It might just be the case that one of these varieties proves to be the new favourite tipple for your Dad, for your Grandad – or maybe even for both.

Taking a chance

At Taylors Wines, it’s pretty clear that we’re all about mixing the old with the new. Take our winemaking techniques for example. On the one hand we hold on to tried-and-true traditions that have been passed through our family and loyal staff across the decades. Yet we also continuously embrace new and exciting developments from the fields of viticulture and oenology. Similarly, we aren’t shy about utilising ‘newer’ and lesser-known grape varieties when conditions are right. In fact we’re delighted to have garnered some pretty impressive awards for our forays into the alternative wine field. We’d love to share with you some of the promising contenders in the fascinating world of alternative grape varietals.

Thinking through the alternatives

Which grape varietals can actually be called ‘alternative’ tends to be something of a challenge to pin down. We know instinctively what a selection of the ‘standards’ might include – think Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Riesling for example. Yet in 21st Century Australian wine culture, how do we know an alternative varietal when we see it (or taste it)? As the description indicates, these wine grapes are a little out of the ordinary. They might be considered alternative due to having become obscure, underappreciated or almost extinct in their country of origin. Or an alternative might simply have slipped into anonymity when more fashionable grapes came into power. In many cases some truly special fruit has been in danger of disappearing permanently, and it’s our pleasure to help turn this around in Australia.

Special things for special Dads

For some Australian growers, there is something both honourable and challenging in matching these unusual varietals with the peccadilloes of our unique climate – and then bringing these rarities back to vinicultural life. In terms of the diversity of wine fruit available in Australia, alternatives provide a valuable way to inject interest and genetic difference into the nation’s vineyards. Certainly, alternative wine varieties tend to take up small parcels of land and similarly small percentages of wine outputs. But this is not to say that these grapes are of lesser quality or interest compared to the ‘standards’.

In fact, it is often the case that a community or nation had simply forgotten about the incredible potential of their lesser-known grape varieties. And this can be a great shame for lovers of premium wines. At Taylors Wines we’ve learned from experience that it pays to embrace alternative wine grapes, whether singularly or as part of a seductive blend. After all – sometimes a change can bring about the most beautiful and surprising rewards.

Creating a perfect blend

So where to begin when it comes to selecting an alternative wine? Well it really depends on what sort of wine experience you’d like your Dad to have this Father’s Day. One option is to just take a slight detour away from his usual preference – nothing too outrageous if you like. For example, if he is a devoted fan of weighty noble reds then you could mix things up a little by introducing something a tiny bit lighter or even present a blend that mixes traditionals with alternatives. Our decadent combination of textures and flavours in the multi award-winning TWP 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc provides the perfect example of what can be achieved by passionate and innovative winemakers. Within the artisanal space of The Winemakers Project, this exemplary red blend exhibits the types of complex berry aromas, fine-grained tannins and long finish that are adored by lovers of good reds across the globe. And we’re certain that one special fellow in particular is bound to appreciate a gift that is truly unique. TWP_Red & Glass_Front_on_LR

Say ‘Ole’ on Father’s Day

If you’d like to out go out on a limb for your red-loving Dad, an alternative red grape wine such as the Spanish-born Tempranillo could prove the perfect Father’s Day present. A ruby-to-purple hued aromatic wine with moments of blueberry, tobacco and herbs, Tempranillo is certain to bring a smile to Dad’s face. The Taylors Estate 2014 Tempranillo promises to delight across seasons and menus, with subtle herbaceous notes and a satisfyingly crisp finish.

European flair with an Aussie twist

But what about the white alternatives? If you truly think that a Father’s Day surprise is in order this year, it can be hard to move past the Gewurztraminer option. A white grape hailing from the northern-east French/ German border area of Alsace, the resulting wine has often been described as ‘beautifully unexpected’. When approaching the heady crushed rose aroma of Gewurztraminer, you could be forgiven for thinking that this will necessarily be followed by an inevitable sweetness on the palate. However, this special white presents a crisp and dry mouthfeel, complete with earthy flavours of ground spice and berries. Teamed with a hearty plate of Cypriot meze, pate or soft cheeses, the trophy-winning 2012 Taylors Estate Gewurztraminer will provide Dad with the sort of pleasure that no amount of fluffy Father’s Day socks are likely to bring!

For that sweet older fellow

Your Dad or Pop might actually be a real little ‘sweetie’ at heart though. By that we mean he’s man enough to admit that he prefers his whites to embrace their sugar profile, plus all of those sweeter aspects of the floral aromatics. Well – if that’s the case, we have just the alternative variety for you to consider. The Moscato is the perfect Spring-Summer drop to be enjoyed icy cold on a warm veranda. With notes of melon, vanilla and musk, Moscato creates an opportunity to indulge in the best summer stone fruits while sipping a truly special warm-weather drop.

Popular Pinot Gris

One interesting debate in alternative wines lies around the ‘alternative’ nature of Pinot Gris/Grigio. Yes, 10-15 years ago the varietal was almost unheard of. Yet now as enjoyers of quality white wine look to expand their horizons, the grape has come into greater prominence. Many watchers of alternative styles in Australia still see the Pinot Gris as fitting the alternative tag. Either way, you’re sure to be giving one of the more appreciated Father’s Day gifts if you choose this stylish white.

Mixing it up this Father’s Day

So instead of opting for the easy option of a gift voucher this Father’s Day, have a think about surprising that special bloke with a sample of Australia’s premium alternative wine offerings. You’ll be known as the thoughtful child – and he’ll get to savour some of the best and most exciting alternative wine varieties that are currently being grown and developed in Australia.

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The Pioneer Shiraz Exceptional Parcel Release represents a bold step in the Taylor family’s journey to craft distinctive wines that rival the world’s best. The Pioneer Shiraz 2012 showcases the way in which a superior wine can be produced through a very delicate balance of meticulous attention and care, expert skill and know-how, and supreme craftsmanship.

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It all started in the vineyard

Relatively early in the 2012 vintage a series of exceptional vineyard blocks were earmarked by Adam Eggins, Taylors’ Chief Winemaker, and the Taylors viticultural team for their clear promise of delivering truly exceptional fruit of the highest quality. The selected vineyard blocks in 2012 cover a range of micro-climates and elevations within the St Andrews vineyard, the Auburn estate and southern Clare Valley.

Harvest and cold-soaking

Creating this superlative wine required harvesting the fruit at the exact right moment, to capture optimal flavours, acidity and structural development. The fruit was harvested over a period of two weeks from the end of February to early March, after which each parcel was de-stemmed and initially cold-soaked for four days.

Fermentation, barrelling and maturation

A portion of each parcel was then transferred to headless American oak barrels and fermented for between seven and ten days at 22-28°C, using RX60 yeast – a strain used for its capacity to facilitate aroma enhancement in Syrah / Shiraz fruit.

Following fermentation, Taylors deviated from the usual Shiraz practice of pressing the wine off the skins before barrelling, instead deciding to store the wine on skins for six weeks in the oak barrels. This extension of skin contact with the surface area of the barrel was done in order to enhance palate complexity and length, enabling the wine to develop extra richness and multiple layers of complex flavours from the skin and seeds.

The use of American oak for Shiraz impacts on the wine’s properties in a number of ways. Shiraz is typically a rich and concentrated variety, and American oak helps to build the palate with additional spice and cedar characters.

The tight-grained American oak used by Taylors respects the fruit in a similar way as French oak, but adds extra power and weight. This respect for the fruit combined with the extra impact of the oak tie together to create what could be described as a marriage made in perfect harmony.

Following this process, the grapes were then pressed off the skins and malolactic fermentation was carried out. Each of the parcels was matured in a selection of oak barrels and individually racked after six months before being returned to their respective barrels for a further ten months. After this, a painstaking barrel selection took place for each of the individual components, prior to the final stage of bottling.

St. Andrews Shiraz

The results are in, and they are good!

The accolades for this exceptional wine have been rolling in. Matthew Jukes has named the wine in his ‘100 Australian Best Wines’ describing The Pioneer as “trapping layered elegance” and providing “an insane depth of chewy fruit and an impressive retinue of tannins which never seem too sour or over-extracted.”

Other wine writers have also released glowing reviews for The Pioneer. Robert Whitley, from Wine Review Online, is equally impressed, writing: “Australia has its share of impressive wines and I would submit Taylors The Pioneer Shiraz is positioned to take its place alongside the likes of Grange and other better-known powerhouse reds from Down Under.” 

Tasting notes and presentation

The wine’s palate is complex and layered, beginning with juicy deep berry compote fruits, yielding to firm tannins and alluring oak, coconut and dark chocolate characters, and a lingering finish. Colour is mid purple-crimson with deep black cherry hues.

Each bottle of The Pioneer Shiraz is hand-labelled and individually numbered, and packaged in a beautiful luxury gift box. Each bottle also comes with a hand-sewn booklet containing details of the wine, including the history, vintage conditions, vinification and maturation.

The multi-dimensional structure of The Pioneer is truly something. For more information click here.

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