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Posts Tagged ‘Clare Valley’

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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At the Taylors family winery, things are ‘full steam ahead’ as far as vintage 2017 goes with things progressing steadily and without incident.  The weather for January saw reasonably mild conditions with only 7 days registering a maximum temperature greater than 35°C and temperatures well in line with long term averages for the region.  Overall for the month we received almost 52 mm of rainfall, just under half of that we received in 1 day on the 20th January!  That day the temperature was also high – around 36°C – which can be problematic as these conditions tend to promote mildew diseases but Mother Nature was on our side and the temperatures quickly plummeted overnight to 21 °C for the next day coupled with reasonable winds – helping to dry out the canopies and dissipate humidity.  In any case, our vineyard team worked diligently to keep on top of any potential outbreaks and as a consequence, we saw no evidence of any mildew issues on the estate.

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The harvest commenced at our Clare Valley estate on the 1st of March as usual with a white variety; Pinot Gris.  The following day, we harvested Pinot Noir for sparkling base – which is technically a white wine too.  The winemakers were pleased to be able to use some new picking bins specifically designed to protect the juice from picking up any colour.  They have what is essentially like a sieve fitted inside the bin and any free run juice is protected from skin contact by draining through the holes in the sieve, collecting in the bottom to be syphoned off prior to being tipped into the press. These new bins will also be employed when the Pinot Noir for our Rosé wines are harvested, resulting in much better control of colour & phenolic pickup during the harvest and ultimately a more delicate wine.

Riesling was the next variety to be harvested on the 5th of March, quickly followed by Chardonnay and by the 24th of March, all of the white varieties from the estate had been harvested bar the Viognier.  We pick that at the same time as the Shiraz as the two varieties are co-fermented for our Eighty Acres wine.  Meanwhile, we commenced harvesting the first red variety from the estate, Tempranillo on the 8th of March.  Things quickly picked up from there with the team picking good quantities of both Shiraz and Merlot from the 10th of March.  The first of the Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate was only harvested yesterday on the 28th March and with the mild, sunny conditions promising a lovely long ‘hang time’ for the Cabernet Sauvignon – which bodes well for the wines we’ll produce.

At the time of writing, we’re only around 40% of what we intend to pick from the estate and as a comparison, this time last year, we were almost 85% through!

As far as the harvest from our grower partners in other regions go, Shiraz from McLaren Vale is the only one to reach 50 % completed so far.  We still have quite a bit to come in from the Adelaide Hills and also our Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra for the Jaraman range.  This is often the last fruit to come in over vintage.  With the weather holding beautifully for the foreseeable future, it’s certainly been slow and steady but you know, that’s just how we like it!

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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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We’ve had an interesting start to vintage 2015 with what our vineyard manager, Colin describes as an ‘upside down growing season’.  It was dry early in October, and then cool and mild in December and January with some rainfall.  The opposite is usually the case with October usually seeing the mild conditions and some rain and December and January being relatively warm and dry!  In any case, the stored water in our dams from above average June rainfall meant we were able to irrigate during the dry October months and keep the vines in optimal health.  Whilst moisture levels can be somewhat controlled, we can’t control temperature and sudden and dramatic falls in overnight temperatures usually bring the threat of frost.  As it happened, in mid-October, the Taylor family estate experienced a frost event. And whilst the extent of crop loss in the affected blocks is still to be fully assessed, overall the quality of the fruit developing for vintage 2015 looks to be great.

V15 Season Rainfall chartV15 Season Min Temp chartGrowing Season Statistics - vintage 2015

Vintage officially commenced at Taylors Wines with processing of fruit for our new sparkling wine – the Taylors Estate Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Cuvee on January 19th.  On the 3rd of February the first of the fruit for the table wines was harvested; Semillon. Later that same week, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer were picked from blocks on the Clare Valley estate.  The first of the red table wine varieties; Tempranillo was picked on 11th February.  This is earlier than we would have expected but when they are ripe and ready, we are not going to argue!  In fact, this vintage is turning out to be a pretty ‘fast and furious’ affair, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the vintage of 2007.

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One of the great things about our cellars and winery is that they are designed with both gentle handling and capacity in mind so we can happily keep receiving those lovely ripe grapes as quickly as they want to ripen. Embracing continuous innovation is one of our core values so we always have lots of interesting R&D projects on the go.  This vintage is no exception, although one piece of new equipment seems to be causing more excitement than usual.  Our winemakers have collaborated with some forward thinking tank manufacturers to install a new small capacity fermentation vessel.  The unusual thing about this vessel is that it is shaped like an egg!  Now egg-shaped fermenters aren’t exactly new.  What’s new in this case is that it is constructed from stainless steel.  In fact, it’s the first stainless steel egg-shaped fermenter in the world!  We all agreed it looked a bit like Mork’s spaceship.  Now, of course, there have been concrete, clay and porcelain egg-shaped fermenters but the problem with these is the fact that you can keep them as clean as you would like and they are usually very small.  With stainless steel, you can completely sterilize and sanitize them; controlling the ‘zoo’ of microorganisms present in wine making is very important.  And you can make them with larger capacity.  Winemakers generally seek the egg shape fermenter as there is a convection currents created inside the vessel due to the shape during fermentation – this effectively ‘mixes’ the fermenting must without any mechanical intervention – a very gentle and efficient way of extracting all of the colour and flavour that translates into quality wine!  We’ll let you know how our egg-fermented wines turn out!

 

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Right now, the cellars are quickly filling with the gorgeous aromas of fermenting grapes – it really is an exciting time of the year.  I’ve said it before but I’ll happily repeat it – this is what I love about wine. It’s not just a beverage that you can make from a recipe anytime you like.  The grapes ripen as Mother Nature sees fit and the wines we craft from this vintage represents a snapshot in time or history even.  As these ‘fruits of our labour’ go through their various processing, fermentation and maturation stages on the way to being completed, my thoughts often wander to the future and what life will be like when we are enjoying these fine wines from vintage 2015.

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You might have heard of a phrase in education: ‘lifelong learning’. The idea is that your wellbeing improves if you keep learning new things right across your lifespan. Well, when it comes to learning new and innovative ways to grow grapes and make premium wines, we here at Taylors Wines are happy to be known as lifelong scholars. That’s because we humbly recognise that for the craft of viniculture – studied and applied by humans for at least the last 8,000 years – one whole lifetime couldn’t be long enough to learn all that there is to know. So we stay diligently up-to-date with the latest developments in wine craft, doing the best we can to ensure quality and refinement across everything that we do.

Learning at the edge

Like many practices since the early 20th century, viniculture has been greatly enhanced by incredible leaps in technology. At Taylors, we examine and trial new trends in viniculture with a view to continuously improving the taste, quality and integrity of our wine ranges. And because of our proven commitment both to the land and to overall vineyard health, we insist that any innovations not only avoid harming the environment, but also actually put something back. We’re learning more each day about the potential to improve our outputs, both in the vineyard and back at the winery. And that’s great news for enjoyers of wine, who can count on us staying at the cutting edge of developments in wine growth and development.

Developments in precision viticulture

Precision viticulture (PV) is a concept that started to gain traction in Australian winegrowing a few years ago (and just to avoid confusion – viticulture is about growing all types of grapes, for wine, the table and juice, while the term viniculture refers exclusively to wine grape production). The concept of ‘PV’ might seem ridiculously simple – basically, it’s about adapting your practices to suit varying vineyard requirements. Yet for too long in Australia, viticulturists and other primary producers have spent too much time fighting or ignoring the microclimatic realities within and across their paddocks. Precision viticulture promotes the harnessing of new technologies, such as GPS, high-res soil surveys, yield monitoring and remote sensors, in order to provide us grape growers with unbeatable data about individual vine needs. This technology can provide an enormous amount of precise information on moisture levels, soil issues, pest presence, pruning needs, and wind factors, for example. And the outcome for fruit quality and yield can be, well, simply outstanding.

GPS for wine?!

Now this approach isn’t about replacing people with machines – nothing comes close to the five senses, or to a producer’s personal affinity with their vines!

But if we can use technology to learn more about the subtleties of our soil, our vines, and our fruit, then our decisions about growth, harvest and vinification are going to be better informed.

You might ask what does this all mean for premium wine offerings, such as those in our award-winning collection? Well, it means our winemakers are presented with simply impeccable fruit that has been grown on carefully nurtured vines – each planted for optimum results. Water, nutrition and protection needs have been observed and acted on appropriately throughout the entire growth cycle. Plus, harvest has occurred at precisely the perfect time for each varietal. And the environment has received as little burden as possible, with wastage and overplanting issues eliminated. Our winemakers then have the opportunity to work with grapes that they’ve monitored closely right throughout growth and harvest. This gives them the ability to make vinification and fermentation decisions that are perfectly matched to the nuances of each particular vintage. Pretty heady stuff!

And, technological advances are happening all the time. The exciting innovations being talked about in viniculture might sometimes seem a bit pie in the sky – until you start to see examples of new technology coming into being.vineyard-tractor

Pinpointing vine stress

For instance, we were intrigued to hear earlier this year of a device being developed by a West Australian researcher, which monitors real-time vine stress. Now, we all know what a wilting plant looks like – but in the commercial vineyard, it pays to know about any water stress that vines are experiencing long before such visible signs emerge.

Bringing those grapes in pristine, succulent style to the winery is a skill that requires relentless monitoring of moisture, nutrient, pest and weather variables across the growing season. We need all the help available! So, it’s certainly exciting that Associate Professor Rafiei over at UWA is developing a real-time intelligent sensor water stress device that will do a whole lot better than humans at detecting precisely when the vines are under strain from the dry. And irrigation for such vines at exactly the right time prevents the avoidable problems with grape yield and quality if such stress goes undetected for too long.

Water is a constant issue for us primary producers. With innovations such as this emerging, we can conserve water though efficient use, while also enhancing grape yield and quality. That’s got to be a win-win!

Learning every day

We could certainly wax lyrical long into the night about the tremendous innovations coming through in viniculture. You might have guessed that at Taylors Wines, we’re excited to learn everything that we can about how to bring the best fruit from the vineyard straight to our winemakers.

The overall trends of precision viticulture, plus developments like the real-time water stress device, give us confidence that technology for winegrowers is improving every day.

Suffice to say, here in Auburn we intend to stay on the edge of technology, ensuring that our vines are tended and our wines created with knowledge of the best innovations available. If we reduce wastage, improve soil, enhance fruit and deliver premium wines… then every little bit of our learning is worth the effort. We can all raise a glass to that!

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

Crossing continents

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

Ring in the New Year

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

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Taking it to the world

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

A European flavour

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

American dreams

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

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

No place like home

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

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

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Although we can sometimes become a little obsessed with creating our premium wines, here at Taylors we’re also very passionate about giving back to the community and being involved in key Australian events. One of those events is the Australian Open. This prestigious golfing event brings together the cream of the crop in international talent – and also helps to put the spotlight on Australian sport and tourism. Attracting elite sportspeople and fans alike, this esteemed gathering of international talent has a 110-year history, with the first competitors teeing off in 1904. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of this fantastic golfing occasion.

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Playing our part

Since 2007, Taylors Wines has been the official wine sponsor of the Australian Open. It certainly provides us with a sterling opportunity to be part of one of the world’s premier elite sporting competitions. First, we are able to provide golfers, officials and spectators with our exclusive premium wines throughout the event. Further, sponsorship helps us give back to a part of Australian culture that helps to define us: a love of the great outdoors and of sports in particular. Our contribution also forms part of the support given to the young up-and-comers in Australian golf.  We feel so lucky to be able to contribute our energy and our premium products to such an iconic Aussie event, which is a true gem on the national sporting calendar.

The St. Andrews link

It probably comes as no great surprise that the St. Andrews range is a key feature of our offerings at the Open. What synchronicity! We think back to the two Scottish gents who first developed our land here in the Clare in the 19th century. As a nod to this heritage, our St. Andrews range echoes these beginnings in our wine collection. And considering that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews Scotland has hosted this noble sport since 1754, it’s easy to see that Taylors Wines and the Australian Open Golf Championship were always going to have a special connection. Prestige golf and premium Taylors Wines – a perfectly natural match!

Australian golfing heritage

In 2014, competitors in the Australian Open will have the opportunity to play at the picturesque Australian Golf Club in Sydney – Australia’s oldest golf club (although the Royal Melbourne has had a few choice words to say about that over the years!). Australian golfers and international guests will enjoy playing on the beautiful course at Rosebery, which is a mere six kilometres from the Sydney CBD. But when swinging the clubs out on that lush, rolling course, well – the city could be a million miles away. With the cooling breezes that typify Sydney’s eastern suburbs plus the outstanding heritage venue, the Australian Golf Club will form the perfect backdrop for a hard-fought Open Golf Championship.

The pleasures of summer

We know that both throughout the competition and at day’s end, players and spectators alike will be looking for sustaining gourmet treats and refreshing beverages. And of course we’re well equipped to assist with the latter! Being held in late November this year, the Australian Open Golf Championship will certainly provide for thirsty work over the sunny Sydney grounds. For canapés and entrees, we’re looking forward to presenting some of our favourite premium whites to spectators throughout the rounds. Perfectly chilled, our trophy-winning St Andrews Riesling 2014 represents the type of crisp, citrus-flavoured refreshment that will undoubtedly provide the ideal foil for the summer heat.  Throughout the Australian Open Golf Championship, we will be doing everything that we can to make Australia proud, showcasing just what a family-run winery from the Clare Valley can bring to the table. With all that tense and nail-biting competition taking up most days of the Open, it’s the least we can do to provide a little refreshing relief.

Ah, memories…

On that final day of the Championship – which happens to also be St. Andrews Day and also marks the triumphant end to the official PGA tour – there can only be one golfer who gets the chance to hold the Stonehaven Cup high in victory. Yet it’s great to know that a thrilling and exciting time will be had by all, both on and off the course. As the spectators dissipate back to their everyday lives, memories will be carried home of outstanding golf, perfect weather and of course – the best examples of premium Australian wines.

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