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Archive for the ‘Wine Varieties’ Category

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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It’s no secret that for years Riesling suffered a bit of a PR nightmare, with an undeserved reputation for too much sweetness. It seemed for a time that only winemakers appreciated its true beauty.  But as you probably know, here we’re pretty crazy about this elegant white, which ranges in style from deliciously fruity, to crisp and dry. To understand the complex aspects and rich history of the Riesling, we thought we’d start with a wander down the Rhine…

A brief history

When not praying devoutly, monks across the ages have been well-known makers and imbibers of good wine. So it’s probably no real surprise that a medieval Cistercian monastery in the Rheingau region of Germany is generally recognised as the starting point of the aromatic Riesling varietal. As the Rhine winds its way northwest across Germany, its steep sloping banks with rather questionable soil produce a white wine of notable clarity, zest and longevity.

The 15th century saw this popular wine pop up in Austria and across in Alsace, with the latter wine district adding a little French-infused je ne sais quoi to the production of the popular white. The grape continued to grow in popularity across Western Europe, as vintners discovered and celebrated Riesling’s characteristic freshness.

The parentage of the Riesling grape is not entirely clear – a form of  Traminer might well have bred with a local wild German vine, but there’s also the theory that the rather obscure Heunisch grape plays a part in Riesling’s DNA. In any case, a white of gentle acidic balance and light floral distinction luckily came about.

Riesling arrives in Australia

Riesling grapesA bit like our monks, pioneering travellers from the Middle Ages and beyond also tended to take their wine pretty seriously. Vine cuttings were often transported to parts of the New World to ensure the quick establishment of wine in new climes. And aren’t we lucky in Australia that Riesling was one of the originals?

German immigrants brought Riesling vines with them when they arrived in Australia in the 19th century. With travel of course comes new terrain, and Riesling began to show an extraordinary tendency to absorb and reflect the unique mineral characteristics of local vineyards. The Clare and Eden Valleys in Australia were found to be particularly suited to Riesling’s requirements.  As for those soft mineral tendencies, there’s one theory that the poorer soils upon which Riesling thrives tend to lead to more probing root systems, ensuring that the local terroir is never forgotten in the subtle Riesling palate. Beautiful stuff.

Complex and vibrant

Often loved for a dominance of citrus and floral notes while young, one of the best features of the Riesling is in the fantastic rewards of cellaring.

Depending on the vintage, it’s not unexpected to discover musky rewards of smoke, honey and warm spice in the older Riesling. Give it a couple of years and you’ll find the earlier pale straw hue will tend to relax into a peachy, autumnal affair – yet still with a refreshing lift.

Some people get famously put-off by the idea of the ‘petrol’ or ‘kerosene’ – these words often used to describe the character that can come in the latter years of a fine Australian Riesling. We prefer to describe this lovely aged character as ‘toasty marmalade’.  It’s the reward you get at the end of a well-cellared Riesling and we think it’s fantastic.

A quick note on cellaring

The key to sourcing an excellent Riesling for cellaring purposes is in the quality of the vintage while still young. As the Riesling Report notes, ripeness at bottling combined with a fundamentally sound acidic structure can both help to ensure a “wine for the ages.”

Food matching

Riesling should certainly be put centre stage, especially when food pairing calls for a dexterous and adaptable number. When sweetness and acidity are in balance, the refreshing citrus tones of a Riesling that is less than two years old are hard to beat for even the most challenging food partners, while older Rieslings can impart a wonderfully deep flavour and aroma.

Taylors Estate RieslingThere’s no vegetable dish known to man that can fail to pair perfectly with the clarity of a lovely Riesling – think antipasto, stuffed capsicum, spicy tomato soup or vegetable moussaka – all perfect cool weather matches for this versatile white. Our Taylors Estate Riesling 2013 puts forward fresh lime and lemon notes that will compliment antipasto, or even a spicy winter curry to perfection.

And when summer rolls around again Riesling, no matter its age, tends to provide a perfectly refreshing foil to the Australian heat, whatever the menu. We think that maybe somewhere, the heavens must have foretold of the long Aussie verandas, the pan-Asian table influences and of course the easy-going outdoor life that was to typify modern Australian summer weekends – and solemnly declared: “This place shall have Riesling!” Let’s picture a seared and spicy pork number…  Or your favourite chilli chicken salad… Maybe that whole ginger snapper? These and so many more summery dishes all fall beautifully under the spell of Riesling.

About those rumours

Just in case you’re still undecided about the brilliant balance of modern Rieslings, a brief word on the famed sweetness rumour. Yes it’s true that Riesling was once undeservedly mauled and modified in the bad old days. All that inexcusable residual sugar weighed down any possibility for pure citrus tones and luscious acidic complexities to arise.

But we’re so very glad that the times of getting Riesling wrong in production are long gone. And we’re proud to be part of Riesling’s well-deserved resurgence as a noble white.

Whether sipping a crisp, lime-inspired refresher beside the Spring Racing track, or nibbling antipasto by your winter fire with a soft, smoky older number – we’re pretty sure that Riesling will become one of your new best friends – if it isn’t already! Enjoy…

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

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

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

Our artisans at work

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

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

Expect the unexpected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving them wings

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

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

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

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In a couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing the next vintage of Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – the 2013.  The wine has developed a ‘cult following’ since the first vintage release – the ’73.  Back then, the Taylor family were convinced the terroir of our Clare Valley estate could produce red wines of a pedigree to match those from the ‘old-world’ vineyards of Europe.  Taylors also released a Shiraz in 1973 but it was known as ‘Hermitage’ back then.  Whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon is the great love for Bill Taylor, Shiraz is a quintessential Aussie wine and a firm favourite of the general populous.  When Taylors decided to also plant some Merlot in 1995, the trinity was complete.  Over the last 45 years, Taylors has really become synonymous with quality red wines which is probably why our special cellar door Red Hot Red pack is such a popular item.

Taylors Red Hot Red pack

Taylors Red Hot Red pack

The pack contains a bottle each of the Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz and the Merlot and is a fine way to compare and contrast the individual natures of these three noble varieties.  The pack was created to celebrate the launch of the first vintage release of Taylors Estate Merlot – the ’98.  It caused quite a sensation and our phone rang hot with retailers calling to order the new packs.  It was kind of fitting that the Red Hot Red pack was first available in the year 2000; it was a new millennium and it also marked a real shift in the winemaking approach for these red wine favourites.  At that time, a new winemaker had joined the ranks, one Adam Eggins, who brought with him a new philosophy borne out of many years’ experience in crafting champagne and sparkling wine; ‘respect the fruit’.  It was an ‘old world’ philosophy that valued keeping the fruit in as pristine condition as possible, handling the fruit gently to minimise maceration and contact with unwanted phenolic characters – particularly those from stalk tannins.  The first thing he did was to order the removal of all crushers from the winery.  Taylors would only de-stem, there was to be no more crushing of grapes!  The idea was to try to get as many whole berries into the fermenters as possible, thereby avoiding the juice coming into contact with these unwanted phenolic or bitter tannins.  The effect of this major operational grape processing change was noticed almost immediately by the wine judges and the gold medals and trophies started rolling in.  The Taylor family, spurred on by positive international success, funded a winery expansion project in 2007 and the new facility was processing grapes in 2010 with every facet engineered to protect and preserve the quality of the grape.  The result of this innovation has been the ability of our winemaking team to craft world-class wines that have continued to enjoy much international acclaim.

At the time of writing, the wines contained within the Red Hot Red pack; The Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz and the Merlot have amassed a collective total of 118 gold medals, 15 trophies, 3 platinum medals, and 975 other awards, including Category Champion, Judge’s Choice, and Outstanding Value awards.  These wonderful endorsements demonstrate the success of this simple but unerring commitment to the ‘respect the fruit’ philosophy and to crafting outstanding wines of the highest possible quality and style; all for our pleasure and enjoyment…..how wonderful!

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They say that wine trembles with fear when capers, chili and asparagus are about. But all hope is not lost – as you will find out, most flavour assassins can be tamed with the help of another main ingredient to divert the attention. A creamy sauce, a juicy steak or a fresh salad could be all you need to harness the strong flavours in these foods.

Capers

Capers get a hard wrap for being impossible to match with wine. But it’s not the fault of the fruit – the vinegar they’re preserved in is the real culprit here. Capers are only a real problem if you’re eating them alone. Enjoy in a fresh salmon sandwich alongside Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio and you’ll be just fine.

Chili

Chili has numbing qualities that make it a difficult match for some wines. We suggest steering clear of delicate, fine wines, as they simply cannot match the numbing effect of chili. Tannin rich reds will feel like an assault on the senses when served with a chili dish so try something in between.

 

Artichoke 

Artichoke alone will make wine taste metallic and sweeter. Combat this effect by diverting attention with the help of a creamy or acidic sauce and then pair your wine accordingly – Try a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend with this great artichoke salad recipe.

Asparagus 

Asparagus is a tricky one. This vegetable has quite a sharp and overpowering flavour that most wines can’t handle, with exception of a special few. Try matching with Sauvignon Blanc or sauté in butter and serve with Chardonnay.

Spinach 

Spinach will bring out bitter and metallic tones in most wines. The best way to enjoy spinach and wine is to increase the acidity of the spinach with a hint of lemon juice, or cook in a creamy or cheese sauce and pair with Chardonnay or something similar.

Soy sauce 

Soy sauce will cause bitter and metallic tones in a bottle of red. Stick to an acidic white with a hint of sweetness like Gewurztraminer next time you chow down on that cucumber sushi.

Chocolate   

Chocolate and wine are generally not friends. Which is a shame considering a pairing these two vices would make for a lovely evening. The sweetness of the chocolate and it’s propensity to coat the mouth is most troublesome. Fear not – when all else fails, a delicious muscadel makes a fantastic partner for chocolate.

Fennel 

The intense and overpowering flavours of fennel make it a difficult match for almost all wines except one – Sauvignon Blanc. If you really want some fennel with your wine, we suggest sautéing in butter or serving with another strong flavour, as in fennel and lamb sausage rolls.

If you’re after some good advice about what are some great food & wine matches, we’ve got some on our website – along with great recipes and advice on how to store and serve your wine.

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The first grapevines were brought to Australia with the first fleet and planted in NSW but how has the face of Australian wine changed since this time?  Here’s a little infographic that we have put together at Taylors to show the progress of the Australian Wine Industry

The Progress of the Australian Wine Industry

The Progress of the Australian Wine Industry

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