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Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

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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Does a wine actually improve with age? There are certainly enough clichés floating around linking wine and ageing – ‘ageing like a fine wine’…. ‘like good wine, the best things take time’, and so on. But like any cliché, it probably pays to know a little bit more about the subject before committing to any costly adventures.

So if you are wondering how aging will improve a wine, the first thing we’ll ask you is, which wine? Because (to bust a common myth) lengthy ageing actually doesn’t suit all wines. The delicate symmetry between wine and time is one that involves a careful selection of varietal fit, winemaking features, and storage conditions.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone tucking away an expensive drop for years, only to have that future occasion marred by a glass full of murky vinegar. It’s not something you’d wish on anyone! So let us do our bit to shed some light on things to consider when looking for ageing potential.

 

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Happy historical accidents

To the delight of the ancient Greeks, the occasional misplaced amphorae of stoppered wine would turn up several years later with a paler but deeply delicious version of the original wine. Middle Eastern and European wine connoisseurs then worked across centuries to pinpoint those wines best suited to the ageing process. With sticky fortifieds such as Madeira and Port handling well across the passing of the years, wine aficionados took a guess that residual sugars might well be part of the secret. Yet resolution of the mysteries of the (wine) x (time) equation came down to much more complex factors than original sweetness. As knowledge grew, key varietal features, growth conditions and discerning vinification processes began to become identified with truly excellent ageing potential.

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Grape potential

The best place to start in understanding the ageing process is to consider the features of particular grape varieties. Where tannins (also known as phenolic compounds), acidic features and fruit characters are all in abundant and balanced supply, the chances of having a wine with good ageing potential increase significantly. Cabernet Sauvignon for example is one of the celebrated ‘agers’ due to the nature of the actual grape’s chemical composition, as is Nebbiolo. Yet a delicious youngster such as a Beaujolais or Moscato is not structured in such a way – giving you every right to enjoy such light varieties instantly! In fact, ageing beyond the first couple of years post-bottling for some grapes is more than a waste of time – it can rob a perfectly integrated varietal of its youthful character.

Acid tongue

As noted, good acidic structure can be a tell-tale sign that ageing potential is high.

Acidity should be assessed carefully, with low pH fruit such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese providing a sound platform for cellaring. If you combine this structure with rich and complex fruit characteristics at bottling, it is highly likely that the passage of time will lead to even better flavour and aromatic components.

White knights and ‘dumb adolescents’

To dispel another myth, white wines can cellar beautifully in the right conditions. Place zesty Riesling from the right region in your cellar and you could find an outstanding 15 to 18-year-old (or more) waiting to be savoured. Chardonnay, with a strong and complex structure at bottling, also has the potential to steal the cellar spotlight. Don’t forget that our accomplished winemakers have enviable skills in coaxing a winning balance from many varietals; oak barrelling and lees management are just two of the key variables directed towards good ageing potential.

One thing to watch for in all wines that you age is the strange valley of disappointment that can arise in the middle years of ageing. A promising Cabernet Sauvignon at bottling could well produce insipid and disappointing returns at the 4 to 6-year mark. This is known as the ‘dumb’ period, where the wine is often confused, aimless and lacking form. The alchemy is underway – but not complete. It’s no surprise some wine aficionados call this the teenage years! Yet don’t despair – if your calculations of potential are correct, the 10 to 11-year mark could well reveal a mature and highly accomplished wine of perfect proportions.

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The right conditions

You might research and pinpoint a wine that has perfectly balanced fruit features, sharp tannins, and sound acid structure. And you could also ensure that the vintage emanates from a flinty, mineral-rich terrain known for adding further scaffolding to the wine’s ageing potential. Yet – it could all be for nought if the cellaring environment is sub-standard. Be sure to take account of the best temperature conditions for your varietal (or blend), and focus upon consistency. 20 hours of sub-13 degrees Celsius will mean nothing if a wall is pounded by 35-degree summer heat for the remaining four hours of each day! Humidity should also be maintained, particularly when cork is in use, so that unwanted oxidation is minimised. And strong vibrations such as truck traffic are a sure-fire way to upset the chemical mix. At the end of the day, we really want these gems to sit in the cool, humid dark until the time is right for unveiling.

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Et voila!

So what does all of this selection, attention and preparation for ageing deliver? Inside that bottle across the dark and dusty years, small miracles are coming to life. One of the key interactions occurring during the ageing process is the chemical dance that is performed between tannins and other components.

Across time, these hard-working phenolic compounds facilitate the mellowing of acidity and enhancement of aromas until themselves falling as sediment – job done. What is left with the passage of time will be a combination of textured aromatics and unexpected flavours that often inspire the sit-down-eyes-closed rapture that a well-aged wine can deliver. Why not put our award-winning St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon to the test? With elegant tannins and distinctive fruit aspects at bottling, the right cellar conditions could well see you bowled over by breathtaking flavours in 2025.

Just remember that well-structured examples of both red and white wines can leave the winery with a long rest in the cellar being their perfect destination. With a little understanding of the key features for longevity, you can begin to gain confidence in spotting and storing a ‘perfect ager’. But just don’t forget the young ‘uns! Some soft, youthful wines without legs for the long haul are nevertheless completely perfect for the 0 to 2-year mark. See? Whichever end of the ageing spectrum is chosen, we lovers of fine wine simply can’t lose.

 

 

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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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