Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Chardonnay’ Category

The History of St Andrews Vineyard…

For over 40 years, from 1891 until 1934, the St Andrews vineyard at Auburn was one of the leading wine producers in the Clare Valley.  The property was developed by two Scotsmen, John Christison (1849-1911) and David Alexander Lyall (1860-1956) and was named in honour of the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew.

On the 21st of September 1891, John Christison and David Lyall purchased Sampson Montgomery’s 323-acre farming property at Auburn with the intention of planting vineyards and orchards. Planting began at St Andrews in 1891 and continued for the next two seasons. By 1895 St Andrews had 115 acres of vineyards and 19 acres of orchard and it was already being referred to as ‘a model farm’. One agricultural journalist wrote, ‘The vineyard and orchard are the best laid out plantations it has been my privilege to see in South Australia.’

The suitability of the land for vine growing was recognised from the outset. To quote a contemporary writer of the time (1896), ‘The character of the country changes a good deal through the vineyard, but the bulk is a light loamy soil containing a quantity of decomposed slate, and this rests on a clay sub-soil. But occasionally there are belts of limestone subsoil, and wherever this is the case the 2½ year old vines have made wonderful growth.’

Ernest Whitington of The Register wrote in 1903, ‘The valley of the Wakefield contains some of the finest land in South Australia.  It does one’s heart good to drive through it.’

The grape varieties planted at St Andrews were Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Mataro, Cabernet Gris and Zante Currant (used mainly for dried fruit). In good years they produced up to six tons of dried currants. The orchards were planted to apples (900 trees), plums (600 trees) and apricots (300 trees).

Construction of the stone, gravity flow winery and cellars began in 1895 and it was used for the first time in the vintage of 1896 when 3500 gallons of wine were made (15,911 litres). The original wine cage was the hollow log of a large gum tree and the press a 1.5 tonne log which worked as a lever.  Production of wine increased rapidly over the next few years – 10,000 gallons in 1897, 15,000 gallons in 1898, increasing to 28,000 gallons in 1903.

Historic St. Andrews winery - circa

Additions were made to the cellars in 1897-98 bringing the storage capacity to 65,000 gallons. A cooling system was introduced that same year.

In 1896, a reporter from the Observer wrote; ‘The Wakefield River runs through St Andrews, and Mr Lyall has ingeniously diverted a small stream for irrigation purposes.  The sight which met our view upon entering the property was delightfully refreshing and cheering…’

The winery cellars were described in 1897:  ‘The cellars are on the hill side, are well built, and every care has been taken in arranging, so that the whole work is done by gravitation.… The cellars are three stories high, one being underground, and the second storey is half underground. The cellar, casks, and everything connected with the cellar are scrupulously clean, and the wines sampled by us proved, without doubt, that Mr Lyall is determined that the St Andrew’s wine will make a name for South Australia.’

And the St Andrews wines did became very well-known. Christison & Lyall concentrated on making a light claret style wine for the export market with much of the wine being exported to England. They also produced ‘a very fine fruity port’ for which there was strong local demand.

Ernest Whitington from The Register, reported in The South Australian Vintage 1903, ‘Only the best sorts of vines are planted at St Andrews and most of them are trellised. In every way, the vineyard is worked on the most up-to-date scientific principles… The winery and cellars are well built, substantial and fitted with modern appliances… Mr Lyall has succeeded in making a first-class wine at St Andrews and it is admirably suited for the export trade…He is one of the most popular men in the district and everyone wishes him the best of luck.’

In August 1907 David and Emily Lyall purchased John Christison’s interest in the business. By 1910 the storage capacity of the winery had grown to 80,000 gallons, making it the second largest winery in the Clare district. The winemaker from 1919 to 1926 was Michael Auld, later Managing Director of Stonyfell Wines (1943).

Vintages in the 1920s produced up to 28,000 gallons of wine. The last vintage was in 1932. The Lyalls sold St Andrews in March 1934 to pastoralist Joseph Kenworthy. David Lyall retired to Walkerville. He died at Medindie on 27 August 1956 aged 96; buried at North Road Cemetery.

Joe Kenworthy was more interested in livestock grazing and race-horses than wine production and most of the vineyards were pulled out. He developed a Merino stud at St Andrews and converted the winery into a woolshed.  The St Andrews house was rebuilt in its current two-storied form in 1939. The Kenworthys were great supporters of the local community. They would often give the use of their place for a annual fundraising events.  Joseph Kenworthy died in 1943 aged 70. His funeral cortège travelled from St Andrews to the Auburn Cemetery.

Mrs Blanche Kenworthy remained at St Andrews for a further 30 years following her husband’s death. Mrs Kenworthy, who became one of the largest landowners in the district; died in May 1972.  In 1959, prior the Mrs Kenworthy’s death, the homestead and some of the Kenworthy’s land passed to Lawrence and Daphne Iskov. (Daphne was Blanche Kenworthy’s grand-daughter).

The Taylor family quickly recognised the potential of the adjacent St. Andrews property when they were first establishing their vineyards in the Clare Valley, and wanted to make it a part of the estate.  So, on 2nd of November 1995 the family purchased the property and became proud custodians of a piece of Australian wine history. They immediately set about the task of ‘recreating history’ and began restoring the property to its original purpose, a vineyard to produce handcrafted wines that stand alongside Australia’s iconic wine names and proudly showcase their Clare Valley origins.

The St Andrews vineyard now forms part of the overall Taylor family estate, which consists of 750 hectares in total with over 400 hectares under vine, planted in the finest terra rossa soils.

St.Andrews Original Winery

On Taylors St Andrews wines…

In 1999 the first of the Taylors St Andrews wines were released, including a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Riesling.  Fruit for the St Andrews wines is selected from those blocks on the family’s estate that consistently produce the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Riesling.

The Riesling is predominantly sourced from the St Andrews vineyard – block A80 and A81; an east-facing, sheltered site on the southern border of Watervale.

The Shiraz is predominantly sourced from two gently west facing sites; The 40 acre block (one of the oldest on the estate) and the St Andrews vineyard – block A30; a block that has been delivering fruit quality deemed ‘from heaven’ and so nicknamed ‘God’ by the winemakers.

Chardonnay is sourced from the St Andrews vineyard – blocks G30 and V20; a north-eastern site planted to French chardonnay clones that consistently delivers wine of greater ‘palate completeness’ and ‘elegance’.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is predominantly sourced from the St Andrews vineyard – block A60 and A70 block; vineyards that whilst basking in the sheltered warmth of the river flat still yield very shy bunches of tiny berries, resulting in those highly concentrated varietal fruit flavours sought by the winemaker for the flagship range.

St Andrews Range

The consistency of quality that these blocks deliver along with optimal viticultural techniques and a handcrafted approach to winemaking allow the unique site characteristics to shine through, making the St. Andrews wines a true reflection of what is known as ‘terroir’.  Indicative of the family’s commitment to producing a benchmark Clare Valley wine, the St Andrews wines are released only in what are deemed ‘exceptional’ vintages and with the Clare Valley region’s climate being what it is, this occurs more often than not.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

At Taylors, we take a lot of simple joy from the art of winemaking. To see family, employees and the community flourishing alongside our business here in the Clare Valley is incredibly rewarding for us. Yet we have to say, it’s also a thrill to receive recognition for the hard work that we put into each bottle and every vintage. So in today’s post, we’re excited to share a little about some of the highly competitive wine shows that we’ve taken part in this year, and take you through some of the awards that we’ve received. From both domestic and international wine competitions, these medals, commendations and trophies represent hours upon hours of hard work, innovation and persistence. They also tell us that our primary mission of presenting premium quality wines to the public is being recognised.

Crossing continents

With our increasingly connected global village, it is clear that in order to effectively share our winemaking dream, we have to get our wines out onto the world stage. In 2014, we have proudly taken our Australian red and white wines to shows in the USA, France, China, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and Japan – to name just a few! And on the domestic front, we take seriously the feedback from local Australian competitions, where our Clare Valley wines have been judged against those from a suite of other Australian winemaking talent.

Ring in the New Year

January 2014 saw a great start to the year for us over in the States. The Winemakers’ Challenge International Wine Competition was held in San Diego, hosted by the renowned wine journalist Robert Whitley. There, our 2012 Estate Shiraz promptly garnered Platinum, as did the 2013 Promised Land Riesling. Considering that Whitley’s online publication Wine Review attracts one million visitors a year, we knew that we were already kicking goals for 2014 – in front of a worldwide audience. Then over to Europe, where the 2010 St Andrews Shiraz plus the Cabernet Sauvignon from that same vintage took out the Great Gold in Spain’s Catavinum World Wine and Spirit Competition. We then swung back home to the Sydney Royal Wine Show, where our 2013 St Andrews Riesling and the 2012 Estate Pinot Gris did us proud, both scooping Gold from a strong domestic pool.

best-riesling-award

Taking it to the world

And so the year began to gain momentum, with competitions from France to China becoming opportunities for us to showcase our passion for winemaking. In the case of China, it became clear that this growing and discerning market of wine lovers was attuned to our dedication. For example, at the China Wine and Spirits Awards, our 2010 Promised Land Shiraz Cabernet not only took out a Double Gold for value – but also the Trophy for Australian Wine of the Year. These CWSA awards are among the largest and most prestigious in China. From our humble winery in Auburn to this kind of world recognition, well it can make you pause for a moment to catch your breath! And the whirlwind of awards overseas didn’t pause in Asia – the highly competitive Michelangelo International Wine Awards in South Africa also bestowed Gold upon our beloved 2012 St Andrews Shiraz. It’s a gracious nod from one antipodean winemaking country to another – and we’re delighted to accept.

A European flavour

You’ll probably understand that we get a little nervous about entering our wines in European shows – particularly in traditional wine growing regions. So as 2014 soared along and we headed back to Europe, we were thrilled to see our wines receive accolades from some of the most prestigious wine competitions. A notable highlight was being awarded not one but seven Gold in the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge! This remarkable event is the largest officially recognised wine show in the world, so we were understandably proud of how our premium Australian offerings fared. Heading north, our 2012 Cab Savs from the Jaraman and Estate ranges, plus the 2013 St Andrews Chardonnay, all claimed Gold in Belgium. The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is one of the biggest European wine competitions, with the jury being selected exclusively from within the wine profession. And then back down south from there in Switzerland, both the Taylors Estate 2013 Pinot Noir and the Taylors Estate Pinot Gris 2013 were awarded Gold at the prestigious Mondial des Pinots competition. Even France joined in the excitement, with the Vinalies Internationales Paris seeing our 2012 Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon stride away with a coveted Gold medal. Mon Dieu!

American dreams

Part of the New World collection of winemakers just like Australia, both the USA and Canada take winemaking very seriously. So when it comes to international competitions, we always know that we’re facing some strong contenders from across the Pacific. But that friendly rivalry didn’t seem to break our stride throughout 2014. The Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition saw us not only take home four Gold, but also Best in Class for the 2013 Promised Land Shiraz Cabernet. One of the most prestigious of the USA’s wine competitions, the LA event has been running for more than 75 years. More Gold then came via both the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the New World Wine Awards. And the American Wine Society bestowed the coveted Double Gold upon our 2012 St Andrews Shiraz. Particularly exciting for us, the San Diego International Wine Competition brought a well-earned Platinum medal for the 2013 Taylors Estate Shiraz. Now, heading over to the East Coast, the World Value Wine Challenge in Boston paid homage to our key convergence of quality and value for consumers: there, we were delighted to receive Gold and Best Buy for a suite of our 2013 vintage wines, confirming our commitment to making premium wines that are accessible to all.

And we have to say that we were especially privileged to be named Clare Valley Winery of The Year at the New York International Wine Competition. Our beautiful valley and winery, out there in full view of the world. Lovely stuff.

No place like home

Back home in Australia, we headed on over to the Rutherglen Wine Show. Now, it might seem to some like just a small country event – but don’t let appearances fool you. Those in the know understand that the Rutherglen Wine Show has a 125-year heritage, with judging that is well known for its intense rigour. Five panels of three judges each provide a score, followed by further judging by an independent associate, whose score is then combined with the others to establish an overall mark. It’s great to return to Australia after a whirlwind year and know that while international acclaim is terrific, the esteem of locals is also greatly appreciated. So when a local show like Rutherglen acknowledges our 2013 Eighty Acres Shiraz Viognier with a Gold medal – it makes the year’s overall achievements that much sweeter. Other local acknowledgement came at the prestigious Melbourne International Wine Competition, where the 2012 St Andrews Shiraz also brought home the Gold for Taylors. And still within the Victorian capital, the 2014 St Andrews Riesling earned not just Gold at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show – but also the Trophy for Best Riesling.

When the industry awards flow in as recognition of our ongoing labours at Taylors, it certainly puts a spring in our step! But it’s no secret that our passion for delivering exceptional wine would go on regardless of any particular acclaim. Sometimes, the greatest reward is just knowing that lovers of good wine are simply being treated to the fruits of our hard work and never-ending innovation.

clinton-clare-valley-award

Read Full Post »

In 1969 when Bill Taylor Senior went searching for land to fulfil his dream of crafting Australian wines that would rival the best from France, he knew from experience that the Clare Valley was something out of the ordinary. High altitude, limited rainfall, warm days, cool nights, plenty of limestone underpinnings, and not too close to the big smoke… an excellent mix all round for a winemaker. At first, the Taylors were able to source 440 acres of prime land in the beautiful Auburn region of the Clare. Following this initial acquisition and with great enthusiasm, the pursuit of excellence in winemaking began in earnest.

A quiet yearning
And yet… the original Taylor family dream had always been to secure a substantial landholding of around 1,000 acres.
It had been a core vision of the family to create an old-world style ‘estate’, featuring contiguous vineyards surrounding the central winery cellars. With this flame continuing to burn across the years, neighbouring property owners were approached by the Taylors for a first right of refusal should selling their land become an option. And at times fortune certainly smiled upon the Taylors; bundles of adjoining land eventually became available and these were divided into blocks known as Promised Land, Broadway, Lodden and Wakefield and quickly planted with vines. Land acquisitions now crept well into the several hundred acres. But one particular, most desired property to the north – St. Andrews, remained out of reach.

The long, long wait

St.Andrews Original WineryFrom the very first day that brothers Bill & John Taylor strode onto their newly acquired Clare Valley property in 1969, they knew that the adjoining St. Andrews land (firmly held for decades by one local family) presented some of the best wine-growing potential around. Yet trying to persuade the owners to offer St. Andrews for sale… well that was a job for a very patient family! Bill would politely enquire every now and then – but no deal. It wasn’t until,more than a quarter of a century later, the northern neighbour agreed on a price and finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. Of course, when the opportunity finally arose for the Taylor family to acquire the St. Andrews property there was no debate about what to do. Never mind that funds had dwindled.  The family just had to find a way and thanks to an understanding bank manager, were finally able to add the crowning jewel to their estate vision!

The pinnacle
In terms of potential grape growing, winemaking and sheer beauty, St. Andrews was destined to be worth every penny – and every minute of the wait. St. Andrews really has become something very special to the Taylors – a chance not only for the family to resurrect a piece of Australian winemaking history, but also to showcase all that they’d been able to achieve over the years, via a select range of ultra-premium wines. These wines have become exemplars not just of the signature winemaking style, but also of the overall philosophy at Taylors. And it all started when Bill Taylor got the keys to the entrance gate of St. Andrews.

 Understanding the past

Historic St. Andrews winery
Part of making great wine is understanding the history of a wine growing area, which means getting your hands dirty – literally! When the boys were first wandering around the St. Andrews paddocks, there was plenty of rock kicking and soil sifting – getting a feel for the land as it trickled through the palm.  The beautiful old winery buildings were a site to behold as well and we were struck by the ability of our forefathers to create these amazing structures that stand the test of time.

The St. Andrews property is truly blessed with the rare terra rossa soil that is coveted by winemakers worldwide. This unusual soil type (literally translating as red earth) occurs most often in Mediterranean regions where prehistoric maritime landscapes once existed. Forming slowly across time, the original limestone eroded away and a rich red soil remains. Terra rossa-raised vines are able to balance perfectly on the knife edge where they are not too comfortable.  It is on this knife edge that the magic happens and the grapes that are produced display extraordinary character.

As well as paying attention to the soil, they also took their time to become deeply familiar with the topography, taking in sun paths, wind direction, rainfall history and frost patterns. These are all components that make up a wine’s unique terroir, or the subtle expression of its origin. Although the original vines had been removed by the time the land was purchased, Bill’s hunch as to why the historic owners had first chosen to plant grapes here back in 1891 proved spot-on, and the family now had the opportunity to create something special with their new plantings.

They were delighted to find discrete pockets of perfect growing conditions for a number of diverse varieties within the St. Andrews precinct. Rich, fertile soils for Chardonnay, sheltered east-facing patches for our cabernet and chill-loving riesling, and gentle western slopes for the sturdy shiraz – it was a vintner’s dream come true.

So it’s fair to say that before they got onto crafting any wine, the family gave these blocks a whole lot of quiet consideration. It’s a good idea to start at the beginning and let your winemaking journey evolve from there. And as they dreamed, they saw the growing potential for the St. Andrews range to become a true flagship of Taylors distinct winemaking capabilities.

Respecting the fruit

So much happens before the St. Andrews fruit arrives at the winemaker’s door. Precision pruning, careful frost monitoring and incredibly exact harvest timing are just some of the pre-vinification factors that ensure the delivery of pristine grapes for each variety and potential vintage. Even as the grapes grow, our winemakers are watching and noting pre-harvest factors to determine the very best and most nuanced manner in which to proceed with vinification.

Timing is crucial for fruit integrity and maintenance of flavours (we’ve been known to go like the clappers in order to get grapes from the St. Andrews blocks to the winery in about 10 minutes). Swift and gentle handling is the key preparation for a carefully composed fermentation sequence follow.

Our winemakers simply want to do justice to the grapes – plus to the land, climate and the hands that formed the fruit. For us, the grapes are royalty, and we greet them with the respect they deserve.

Quality and integrity

Sometimes we’re asked why certain vintages haven’t made an appearance in the St. Andrews range. The answer is simple – we just won’t skimp on quality. If conditions aren’t perfect, or a certain block doesn’t quite meet expectations, then a wine won’t be forthcoming from that year’s harvest. We insist on excellence and precision in the wines that we craft.

St Andrews RangeTo truly be our signature range, St. Andrews wines necessarily embody our philosophy: understand the past, know the place you’re in, and respect the fruit. If any of these factors aren’t honoured within a given vintage – well we’d rather wait and get it right. And if there’s one thing we have in spades, it’s patience! Whether it’s waiting for premium Clare Valley land to become available or holding off picking until just the right moment, it’s the Taylors way to allow all the time in the world whenever quality is involved. Via our flagship St. Andrews range of premium wines, we’re delighted to provide you with the heart and soul of the work that we’re carrying out here this unique corner of Australia.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »