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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.

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The term ‘skunkworks’ originated with a research and development project inside American aircraft manufacturer, Lockheed in Burbank California during World War II. The noted innovation scholar, Everett M Rogers defined skunkworks as “…an especially enriched environment that is intended to help a small group of individuals design a new idea by escaping routine organizational procedures…”

Actually, whilst the Lockheed project produced a renowned innovation in a new jet fighter, it was so named due to the foul smells that originated from the closed off area where the R&D was being carried out! Whilst we sometimes refer to the many R&D trials carried out at Taylors winery every year as ‘skunkworks’, the smells that are produced are far more attractive and enjoyable to experience.

During vintage each year, our winemaking team will carry out any number of different trials in the name of research and development. From enhanced grape processing techniques, different size and shape fermentation vessels (who could forget last year’s stainless steel egg), to experimenting with varying yeasts and enzymes for fermentation and flavour improvement – these trials are many, varied and constant – all for the sake of continuous quality improvements.

One of the biggest areas of research and arguably the most expensive, centres on oak. And it is in this area that our team have been particularly intrepid and bold. With their knowledge and understanding of the role oak tannins play in crafting premium red wines, the winemakers have sought ways to integrate the oak component into the wines as early on in the process as possible.

Fermenting inside the barrel was the obvious choice, however there were challenges associated with this idea. Not the least being how to get the fruit into the barrel! Removing one of the barrel heads was the solution and in 2006 the first headless barrel fermentation trials were carried out. The resulting wine, the St. Andrews Shiraz 2006, was the recipient of many awards including a trophy and four gold medals!

The next challenge the winemakers faced was how to extend the time of grape skin contact after fermentation was completed. This extended skin contact enhanced the level of colour and tannin extraction, and produced richer, denser, more flavoursome, complex and textural wines.

The problem with this was that the headless barrel allowed too much oxygen contact and the winemakers were always balancing a fine line between allowing time for skin contact and dealing with volatile acidity issues.

Of course these industrious individuals did not let this issue dissuade them from their vision and came up with an ingenious solution: a food-grade silicone cover that would be tightly ratcheted to the top of the barrel, creating an (almost perfect) seal.

As they have a want to do however, they continued to search for better ways to achieve their goal and for the 2015 vintage secured an impressive oak vessel known as the ‘Oak Experience’. This large oak vat was crafted from fine French oak and had its own ‘header board’ to submerge the cap and keep the skins in constant contact with the must. It also had a giant stainless steel lid which allowed the wine to be completely sealed off from the outside air.

This year, as part of the continuing R&D associated with barrel fermentation, the team have taken possession of four interesting barrels called ‘Perle de Quintessence’. These barrels are quite beautiful and are shaped like a pearl drop earing (maybe that’s where the name comes from), but they have a flat bottom so that they sit nicely on the ground.

Crafted by the World Cooperage company based in France, these barrels have only been available for the first time in Australia this year. It comes as no surprise that our winemakers were some of the first to jump in and trial this new oak technology.

The World Cooperage company describes the barrels as ‘…our exquisite teardrop pearl; a truncated oval-shaped barrel designed for wine fermentation. Its unique shape and specifications were carefully designed and crafted in creative collaboration with a Grand Cru Classé in St Emilion. Now unveiled to the world, it offers an elegant touch well suited to premium wine programs.’ They go on to describe the advantages of the barrel as ‘(having)…an easily removable lid with a hermatic seal [that] eliminates the need for any alterations to the barrel…the barrel’s shape ensures the pomace is located at the most conical and narrow section of the barrel. During pump-over, the fermenting must passes through a larger volume of pomace, thereby promoting pomace/juice exchanges.’ (Author’s note: technically the ‘pomace’ is what is produced after pressing – which happens after fermentation, we in Australia call this mixture of skins, seeds, etc the ‘cap’ but who are we to argue with the French!).

perle

As with all trials carried out at the winery, we will watch with interest and look forward to trying the results. Who knows, the wine may end up as one of our very special TWP releases, exclusively available through cellar door!

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Call it a lucky synthesis or pure serendipity – either way there is no denying that Clare Valley climate, altitude and soil quality are perfectly attuned to growing the noble Riesling grape. Whether young or cellared, our premium Riesling presents elements that simply sing with the magic of the Clare. In the world of wine, fashions may come and go. Yet the beauty of Riesling lies in an enduring structure and flavoursome versatility – vintage after vintage.

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The Riesling maker’s dream

Most winemakers know there are challenges ahead of them when vinifying grapes into wine. One common difficulty is the creation of a credible representation of the local terroir, while genuinely encapsulating the varietal in question. But for us here at Taylors Wines, we know that we (and our Clare Valley colleagues) are just a little bit spoiled by a region that seems purpose-built for the creation of sensational Riesling. Lower rainfall, enviable altitude and lime-rich terra rossa soil combine to nurture and develop the best aspects of this noble white. Riesling is renowned for thriving in dry and unforgiving terrain, preferring lower rainfall than many other grapes. And here in the Clare, we’re more than happy to oblige with ideal conditions. This fragrant white delights in a classic Continental-style climate, with the Clare Valley’s chilly nights and warm days fitting the bill to perfection.

An unfair advantage?

The Clare Valley itself has a well-earned reputation for producing world-class Riesling. And at Taylors Wines in the Auburn patch of the Valley we certainly feel that we have been blessed. Our position lends itself to large diurnal temperature swings from day to night and the odd rainfall event in December – just when the vines need a little ‘freshen up’). The classic overnight cold snaps we experience during February mean the acids in the grapes are finely balanced and the sugars are allowed to take a well-earned rest.

Where credit is due

There is nothing more exciting and rewarding for us at Taylors Wines than knowing that our prestige wines are deeply enjoyed. When it comes to our Clare Valley Rieslings, we’ve been fortunate enough to also be rewarded many times with acknowledgement from the wider wine community. Our 2014 St Andrews Riesling for example has won multiple gold medals and a championship trophy via prestigious wine shows across the globe.

It’s terrific to be ambassadors for the Clare Valley and to showcase a
Riesling that continues to garner support and recognition on the international stage.

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Analysing a gem

So what can lovers of premium wine expect from a Clare Valley Riesling? In the glass, this wine demonstrates a very subtle straw hue that visually prepares the nose and palate for an elegant journey ahead. Aromas of lime and lemon abound, along with mild citrus blossom and mineral talc notes. On the palate, beautifully balanced acidity provides notable length, enabling flavours to expand across time. The Clare Valley’s limestone soil assists in the development of a smooth minerality. This plays a large part in the structural integrity of our Riesling – the fine, lean acid line – enabling the endurance that can see successful cellaring to 20 years and beyond. Often white wines can be overlooked when it comes to choosing candidates for cellaring. Yet Clare Valley Riesling has proved time and time again that it has the capacity to age for
many decades. Given patience and time, a well-cellared Riesling will exhibit an incredibly entoxicating mix of aromatic delicacy, fruit intensity and a memorable finish.

For magical moments

Opening a bottle of premium Clare Valley Riesling – and we’ve created some classics for you across our ranges – provides a world of food and function possibilities. In the summer months, the crisp dryness and clean palate wrap perfectly around classic warm weather dishes such as seafood, Asian-style starters and marinated BBQ fare. Yet due to the elegant structure and length of a Clare Valley Riesling, this noble white can easily take on co
mplex accompaniment across every season. Clear minerality and the fine notes of lemon and lime prove the perfect companions for autumn cuisines such as tagines, mature cheese boards and aged wagyu. Whether enjoying quiet time with friends or throwing the ultimate soiree, our premium Clare Valley Riesling will bring out the best in all of your events.

An Aussie ambassador

It’s heart-warming to know that our Clare Valley Riesling continues to make a mark across the world as a signature Australian wine. When we think about the combination of perfect soil and climate factors that are drawn by nature into our Riesling vines, it certainly makes us want to create wines that reflect that special synergy. We salute this classic noble white – and invite you to enjoy the magic of our premium Australian Riesling.

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The Story of Viognier

Each year here in the Clare Valley we find ourselves falling further in love with a particular white varietal of extraordinary character and versatility – Viognier. It’s certainly not one of the better-known whites, having gone under the radar for a number of years. Yet we are increasingly impressed with the strength of character exhibited by Viognier, both as a single varietal and as the key member of blends. So much so in fact, that we’ve recently crafted the perfect stand-alone Viognier for you and your summer guests to enjoy. Here’s a little about our growing love affair with this intriguing white.

viognier

A quiet survivor

Like many vines throughout Europe, the aromatic Viognier was introduced to southern climes by the Romans, spending many a decade flourishing in Dalmatia (now Croatia) before settling in the Rhone Valley. It has to be said that Viognier is truly the original survivor of grape varieties. At one time in the mid-20th century, the varietal dwindled to just a few bare hectares of flinty granite around Condrieu in France. The story goes that only a handful of discerning wine lovers knew of these vines, keeping the secret delights of this white wine firmly under wraps. Yet the story was never meant to end there. Rediscovering the unique beauty and character of this white grape, vignerons the world over embraced the possibilities of the distinguished aromatic wine and the love of Viognier was reignited. Viognier is a beautifully structured varietal, with a remarkable array of both stand-alone and blend-perfecting characteristics.

We are so pleased that we decided to plant our own Viognier vines here in the St Andrews vineyard back in 2004. Our distinctive climate and soil minerality have provided this versatile grape with a gorgeous new Clare Valley home – presenting exciting opportunities for our innovative winemakers to explore.

Best friend of the blend

From the earliest days of wine creation, the Viognier grape became well known both for its stand-alone varietal prowess and its superior blending capability. In terms of the latter, the aromatic white exhibited a unique ability to stabilise the colouration of reds across time. The Viognier grape also lends a delightful depth to the mid palate, assisting those companion grapes which tend towards a leaner flavour profile. Medium-bodied, finely oaked and quintessentially floral on the nose, Viognier has become a vital contributor to the structure and length in many notable blends. Traditionally, it partners beautifully with its Rhone cousins Marsanne and Roussane, while also regularly lending colouration integrity to the noble red Shiraz. Here at Taylors Wines for example, we’ve been delighted to incorporate subtle aspects of the Viognier during Shiraz vinification, adding the best elements of colour stabilisation to the mighty red.

Commanding solo artist

But Viognier certainly cannot be described as a ‘bridesmaid’ varietal, simply living in the shadows of other grape components. Upon pouring this pale straw-coloured drop, almost nothing can compare with the delicious floral aromatics released by Viognier. Orange blossom, sweet spice and apricots generously greet the nose, with lime, honeysuckle and toasty oak notes also making regular welcome appearances. On the palate, this white presents with a beautiful complexity and reassuring depth, exhibiting a luscious mouthfeel to round out proceedings. Due to the incomparable quality of the French oak used in the creation of our 2014 TWP Viognier, a subtle yet enduring finish is revealed – perhaps even a little surprising in such a young and supple white. In many ways, the delicious contradictions of Viognier provided the perfect challenge for The Winemakers Project (TWP), where Taylors winemakers have the opportunity to ‘play’ judiciously with the best of our small-parcel fruit selections. The results for our first single varietal Viognier have been – in a word – exceptional.

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Summer selections

It’s been said that in terms of versatility and food matching, Viognier is without compare. This is at least partly due to the fact that the wine’s lush mid-bodied creaminess is intrinsically lifted by the presence of lighter citrus blossom and stone fruit elements. Sometimes, a distinctive wine will place itself firmly and exclusively with light cheeses and salads, or alternatively only with the darker meats and heavy desserts. Not so the Viognier. Due to the unique combination of summery aromatics with a notable structure and finish, Viognier lends itself to an incredibly diverse array of delicious food matches. Coming up to the summer season for example, try a perfectly chilled glass of Viognier with any or all of these – spicy beef strips, chilli pork salad, garlic and dill prawns, or even a dense plum and almond cake. Unlike lighter whites, Viognier takes spicy and weightier dishes in her stride. Picture it: Looking out over the garden with great friends, some tangy morsels and a glass of lush Viognier… well, we just don’t think that summer can get much better than that!

A beautiful mystery

Viognier is one of those varietals that simply stand the test of time. Despite occasional obscurity and near-extinction, this aromatic white wine engages the senses in a unique and distinctive way. Whether providing heady aromatics, fine length or notable structural character (or all of the above), Viognier can certainly come as a pleasant surprise for many who appreciate premium white wines. It’s a mystery to us how the notable merits of Viognier have gone under-appreciated for so long. We’re delighted to be reversing this, and hope that you enjoy our delicious TWP 2014 Viognier over the summery months to come.

 

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You can only imagine how delighted we are to be the official wine partner for our barnstorming Australian rugby union team, the Wallabies. Our three-generation family winery has a strong love of and connection with rugby union, with a number of family members having taken to the footy field from an early age. Across team functions and games, we now have the exciting opportunity to proudly showcase and share our premium Clare Valley wines with both the sporting and wider worlds. As sponsor and supplier for the next three years, we’ll gladly rise to the challenge of being a key member of the Wallabies prestigious sponsorship team.

There are a number of reasons why we think that we are the perfect corporate teammate for the Wallabies. For a start – both partners know what it means to work hard, with quiet determination and an eye to both the short and longer term. Secondly, just as Australia’s premier rugby team represents the peak of excellence in its special niche, at Taylors Wines it’s our enduring attention to quality that has helped carve out an award-winning place in the field of Australian premium wine.

A day-to-day passion

Now we’re not shy about the fact that we have won multiple awards each year for our range of exceptional Australian wines. Of course it’s terrific to have our hard work recognised! But it’s not just about winning prizes. The passion that gets us out of bed each morning is more to do with wanting to constantly refine, develop and perfect the Taylors Wines range. From the precise monitoring and nurturing of our vineyards to the quiet hard work of our viniculturists, each of us here at Taylors Wines draws incredible satisfaction from our part in the process of creating the best wines possible. And for the elite rugby union players making up the hard-working Wallabies team, you can similarly sense that determination and focus on achieving the greatest results. Players know that for each no-fanfare practice session, for each routine stretching exercise on the dewy morning grass, for each pre-game early night’s sleep, there is just that little ‘something extra’ that gets added to their ongoing form.

Innovating for excellence

There’s no room for show-ponies in a team situation. Sure, it’s absolutely breathtaking for Australian rugby union fans to watch Ashley-Cooper glide effortlessly across a World Cup try line… Yet everyone in the team realises that the glory contained in that pinnacle moment is backed by intricate support roles and strategising sessions that include the entire team. For each play on the rugby field – successful or otherwise – forensic questions always await in the wash-up. Such as…What was it about that defensive opening that created such a magical opportunity for the winger? What exactly happened in that third ruck? How can we reduce needless fumbles mid-field? And so on. Because the desire in each Wallaby is to strive for that slight innovation, that extra winning edge that will benefit the team as a whole.

Here at Taylors Wines we’re also relentless in our pursuit of excellence in the field of premium wine creation. Never comfortable resting on our laurels, we’re lucky enough to be able to combine decades of family winemaking with deep investment in innovative winemaking techniques. We care so much about continuous improvement and the search for new ideas that we’ve actually dedicated a portion of our fruit bundles, time and winemaker talents to creating special small-batch wines under our TWP label – The Winemakers Project. We know that in order to get the very best from our elite winemakers we need to give them a little room to spread their wings, creating beautiful wines and new techniques in the process.

Something bigger than ourselves

It’s fair to say that there’s tremendous joy in being able to partner with an Australian sports team as talented and iconic as the Wallabies. Over the next three years we’re planning an exciting range of sponsorship initiatives, working to make each Wallabies game and function as memorable as possible.

If you see us at matches, be sure to stop by and have a chat about our commitment to creating outstanding Australian wine. We know from experience that there’s a passion and joy in being part of a cause or event that’s bigger than yourself. We’re delighted to help support Australia’s national rugby union squad, by bringing that touch of something special to future matches and events.

As dedicated regional producers from down in the Clare Valley, we know that we’re privileged to be able to run that special Australian grape-growing soil through our fingers regularly. Now, we have the opportunity to bring the spirit of the country to the city, as Australia watches the giants of rugby union strive for excellence on the World Cup pitch.

And for each BBQ, drinks event and any post-game function hosted by rugby union fans, we have some absolutely brilliant ideas for pairing our premium Taylors wines perfectly over the Wallabies’ season. Watch this space!

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Serving wine at the ‘right’ temperature can sometimes seem like one of those snobby wine issues which, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter an awful lot. Surely the act of simply chilling whites and serving reds at room temperature will get you within the ballpark of acceptable? This basic rule is certainly a sound starting point for mastering wine temperature. There are however, a few other easy steps you can take to increase the enjoyment of your wine. For this reason, we’ve put together our three best tips for refining your wine temperature strategy – understand, prepare and explain.

Understand the bottle in your hand

So what wine are you drinking? That’s the first thing you should consider before serving your favourite drop at just the right temperature. Whether white, red, rosé, sparkling or somewhere in between, take some time to brush up on the key characteristics of this drop. Why? Well for one thing, you’re more likely to get on board with wine temperature ‘rules’ if you have a stronger understanding of the unique characteristics that are at stake. You want to make the most of your wine and to ensure that you and your guests enjoy the nuances inside each bottle. Secondly, we’ve talked previously on the blog about the etiquette of being a thoughtful host. And there’s nothing lovelier than being handed a glass of premium wine by your host, with all of the best aromatic, textural and flavour profiles maintained via optimal serving temperature.

So take a look at your label and any online tasting notes you can gather to get to know the facts and features of the bottle in hand. Are berry aromatics promised? Flavours of citrus or stone fruit? Are you awaiting supple, elegant tannins? Keep this information in mind as you prepare to establish just the right serving temperature for each unique wine. Taylors Wines Optimum Drinking Temperature guide – in most cases this will be lower for sparkling and whites (approximately 6-12°C) and slightly higher for the medium-to-heavy reds (approximately 14-18°C). Once you get the hang of knowing the correct serving temperatures, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover the luscious accents that exist in different wines when they are actually served in their ideal range.

Taylors Wines Optimum Drinking Temperature guide

Fridge temperature will simply be too cold – freezing out subtler aromatics and leaving a two-dimensional version of promised characteristics. And ‘room’ temperature, as we will shortly reveal, has mistakenly come to be associated with the room you’re in right now. For us wine loving Aussies, the results can be disappointing to say the least! A soupy warm red characterised only by an overwhelming alcohol taste profile is a sorry situation indeed. But by taking the time to put some simple preparatory measures in place, you can be sure to serve your particular red, white or sparkling at the ideal temperature.

On Being Prepared

So how can you prepare various wines for the ideal serving temperature? Some people will have one or two distinct kinds of good ‘wine luck’: One will be the possession of an intricate (and pricey!) wine refrigeration system that is scientifically designed to keep wines at the perfect temperature for serving, while others will have the good fortune of living in a part of the globe that makes the storage and serving of wine an absolute breeze – think stone cellars in frosty climes.

In fact, it’s well known that the ’room’ temperature idea came from the poorly heated stone dining chambres that the medieval French citizens enjoyed their premium wines. But fear not. For us mere mortals living in the modern era, there are simple and practical methods to help us serve each varietal or blend at the perfect temperature all without expensive or even fancy equipment.

First of all – understand your geography and season. A Chardonnay served in summer in sub-tropical Queensland will be in all sorts of trouble if we pull it straight from our wine ‘cellar’ (or shelf in the pantry as the case might be!) and serve. Flavours will mutate, structure crumbles and nuanced aromatics won’t stand a chance of reaching refinement. Yet throw this same Chardonnay into an icy summer fridge (2-4°C) and you similarly create a disservice as the characters are chilled and flattened into oblivion.

So what to do? You could invest in a wine thermometer or discover an even simpler solution…

At the end of the day we believe that good wine should be all about enjoyment. So –we’re delighted to help, with the inclusion of a temperature gauge now featured on all of our Estate and Promised Land wines.

The new Optimum Drinking Temperature label makes enjoying wine at the right temperature simple – all you have to do is keep an eye on the label’s temperature panel prior to serving, and you can be sure that both you and your guests will enjoy the full freshness and zingy citrus notes of our summery 2015 Taylors Estate Sauvignon Blanc for example.

Assist and explain

You might be one of the first in your circle to tackle the worthy challenge of refining your wine serving temperatures. To avoid seeming just a little precious however, make your new methods a conversation starter that everyone can get involved in. Talk through the possibilities of aromatics and flavour development for a well-served red for example, plus indicate the elements that you’re hoping to detect and delight your guests with. Most people will have heard how ‘room temperature’ can be a tricky concept. Have a chat and swap stories on the challenges involved in preparing wine for the unique Australian climate.

It’s a great opportunity to notice differences and nuances from earlier tastings, plus stir up interest in the fascinating question of serving temperature. And you can see now that there’s nothing snobby about striving for excellent serving methods… It’s all about enhancing and maximising the enjoyment of your wine selections.

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We’ve all heard the pre-function request to “just bring a bottle.” But what exactly is the ‘right’ bottle to present at any given function? Further – will just one bottle be enough? And if the host actually has beverages sorted, would another gift be more appropriate? These and other etiquette quandaries can be overcome with just a little thought and preparation. If in doubt, just remember that etiquette is all about making an effort to put people at their ease. As the early 20th Century etiquette expert Emily Post advised, manners are simply “a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.” By keeping a few basic strategies in mind, you’re sure to make wine selections that will enhance the evening for all concerned.

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Bring a bottle

If you are the host of a relaxed and informal dinner with good mates, this is a perfect example where the simple request to bring a bottle can be used. While some guests will have questions around the menu, it’s best to refrain from being too specific; requesting a ten-year-old cabernet for the main is more than a little presumptuous for a fun get-together! For casual meals, it’s best to just let guests bring whatever delightful wine they like, only mentioning the menu if further information is sought. In any case, have a small premium selection of your own red and whites to add to the evening’s enjoyment.

Note the invitation

As a guest, a great place to start when thinking about giving dinner party wine is the invitation. For example, if this appears to be a fancy affair with a broad range of guests attending, consider presenting a premium bottle or two of Clare Valley wine, with a flavour profile to suit a broad cross-section of palates. Our multi award-winning St Andrews 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect example of a balanced and elegant red that is sure to please both hosts and fellow guests alike. Varietals such as our Taylors Estate Pinot Gris and Merlot are excellent all-round food matchers, no matter the menu.

Other clues on the invitation such as ‘mid-winter feast’ or ‘summer fiesta’ will help to guide you towards a style and quality of wine that will best match the occasion.

The numbers game

Whether to bring one, two or perhaps more bottles of wine to an event can be a tricky path to navigate. For the average dinner party with healthy enjoyment of wine on the cards, a seasonally matched bottle of premium wine per individual guest can be a good starting point. If however you come as a couple and are both known for your ability to quickly savour fine beverages, an added gift for the host or hostess might well be in order!

If you are a generous host who has clearly indicated that all beverages will be supplied, don’t be surprised if some guests still can’t resist the temptation to bring a bottle for you.

There’s no need to fret about what to do with any excess beverages brought to your well-planned do (as we’ll see below). Simply begin the event and work the extra wines into your meal if or when they suit.

But is it really a ‘gift’?

Yes! We can’t state it clearly enough – all wine brought to a dinner party is correctly viewed as a gift for the hosts. Regardless of whether you’ve been dying to sample the delicious white that you brought along, the decision whether or not to open the bottle that evening must be one for the hosts alone. After all – they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to open their home and cook up a storm for their guests. At the dimmest end of wine manners is the retrieving and taking home of wine that you brought along. The fact that your gift wasn’t sampled on the night is no excuse for smuggling it back home.

There is perhaps only one situation where you might understandably hope to partake of the wine that you’ve handed over. If you took the time to ask your hosts about a good wine suggestion for the dinner and received a fairly specific response – such as “a crisp young white for the fish course please,” in most cases you can expect that your contribution will form part of the evening’s repast.

Generous openings

For hosts – even if you clearly indicate that you’ll provide all beverages for the dinner party, be prepared for the fact that some guests will still opt to bring a bottle. It might be the case that you have a nuanced menu with carefully matched wines, which you were planning to reveal as the night proceeds. In this situation, if unanticipated wine gifts are offered it is perfectly acceptable to thank the guest for the gift and place it to one side, ready to enjoy at a later time.

Yet if you later sense that the guest was hoping to include their delicious sticky in the dessert course or they hint that their zesty Riesling is the perfect companion for the soup, sometimes it’s best to simply open the bottle provided. One useful trick is to pepper your carefully crafted wine menu with a best-fit selection of gifted beverages. There’s not much point in looking like the miserly host who likes to hoard their gifts of wine! After all – we’re trying to make everyone welcome and comfortable in the dinner party context, so an extra opened bottle probably isn’t the end of the world.

The gift of giving

The key for both hosts and guests is to err on the side of generosity when it comes to dinner party wine selections.

For guests, keep in mind the kind hospitality of the hosts and look for useful clues in invitations and conversations when making your wine selection. Above all – just let your gift of wine go! If it truly is a gift then it should matter little to you whether it is woven into the dinner party’s beverages or not. And for hosts, be gentle with guests who show excess enthusiasm when it comes to being involved in the wine menu.

While you might have had the event planned months in advance, there’s not much to be gained by coolly avoiding a particular guest’s wine of choice.

At the end of the day, the best gatherings are all about hospitality, great company and enjoyment. By keeping in mind just a few of the dos and don’ts of dinner party wine etiquette, you’re sure to enjoy many memorable dinner parties to come.

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