A toast to longevity, innovation & fine, fine wine

July 21, 2022
By Ioni Doherty

Winemaking family, Taylors Wines, launched its inaugural Family Flagship Release at The Calyx in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens on Wednesday night.

The Flagship Release is a collection of the Taylor family’s top wines in its portfolio and 170 invited guests, including retailers, VIPs, wine connoisseurs and some of Australia’s best wine writers, were treated to a wine tasting matched with a beautifully paired four course dinner.

The date of the release is significant to the family: it is the day on which Bill “Big Bill” Taylor first stepped onto the rich terra rossa soils of what was to become their Clare Valley Estate more than 50 years ago. Taylors mark this special occasion as its founding day and last night was certainly a big celebration.

General Manager, Export for Taylors Wines, Neil Hadley MW performed duties as MC and Managing Director, Mitchell Taylor spoke warmly of his family’s legacy and all that had led to this moment since the family of hoteliers and wine distributors (South Australian Wine Distributors as they were called) left Sydney for a life of winemaking at the behest of “Big Bill”, Mr Taylor’s grandfather.

“The Clare is a hidden gem of the Australian wine scene – my grandfather knew it all those years ago when he first founded our family winery,” Mr Taylor said.

“It’s inspiring to see how far our winery has come since my grandfather first set foot in the Clare Valley to start our family on this incredible journey. From our first Estate wines in the early 70s to now releasing a collection of wines that showcase the depth and diversity of our winemaking skill – it’s a humbling and exciting experience.”

This appetite for new pathways, for ways to innovate in winemaking has always been a part of the Taylor’s family’s winemaking story.

Chief Winemaker, Adam Eggins (pictured far right with Mitchell Taylor & Neil Hadley MW) left us in no doubt of this last night as he talked us through the wine-tasting, generously sharing his knowledge of wine and his gift for translating the tastes and textures of his beloved wines into words. It was poetry in motion.

Mr Eggins also spoke of his fixation with weather, in particular “Mother Nature’s Spanish children, La Niña and El Niño”. He even has a nickname for La Niña, calling her “The Angel” because she keeps the devil, El Niño, away. (In case you were wondering, he is currently wreaking havoc with his wildfires in Europe.)

Mr Eggins does not try to tame the land, the fruit nor the wine. His relationship with the land, the weather and the vines seems be happening on a cellular level. He is deeply attuned to them all. It seems he experiences the weather in the same way that the vineyard does and it is the weather that tells him what fruit will be going into those seahorse branded bottles. That’s how he captures The Clare, with its unique terra rossa, its limestone soils and those maritime winds that rollover the seaview ridge.

His work is a life of learning and he seeks ‘the new’, daring to tread new pathways with successes and failures along the way.

It might be new barrels suited to the fruit – “Big oak needs big fruit” – and winemaking techniques, like breaking down full bunches of grapes in oak barrels manually or leaving the 2018 Shiraz grapes on skins for ten months, not 2 weeks like they usually are. (“A potential bacterial nightmare!” exclaimed Mr Hadley.)

These winemaking techniques and others like them are rigorous, labour-intensive and can be risky.

Mr Taylor is his greatest supporter and this should not really be a surprise. Not only has Mr Eggins been making wine for Taylors since 1999 and so is a well trusted member of the clan, but Mr Taylor comes from a long line of innovators, always ambitious to do explore; to do better.

In October last year, Mr Taylor penned a note to the Australian government Taylor ahead of UN Climate Change Conference – COP26 – calling on them to keep temperature rises well below 2°C, it was the first Australian independent winery to sign to Science Based Targets initiative and it is one of the finalists for the Most Improved Gender Equity Awards at the Australian Drinks Awards this year. This is a family business that adapts to and with the times.

Family Flagship Release

There are ten wines in the inaugural Family Flagship Release. They represent five vintages and are crafted in Taylors’ signature style with a focus on extremely gentle handling of fruit.

Most of the wines feature Clare Valley fruit, grown on the family’s Estate, with additional fruit from the Coonawarra and McLaren Vale sourced for the new release Masterstroke collection. The red wines in the Family Flagship Release exude the powerful elegance with great potential for long-term cellaring. The whites display the bright, sunny ripeness and concentrated flavour for which the Clare Valley is renowned.

Once seated, our first wine of the night was the St Andrews Riesling 2022: it was so fresh and bright it was fruit two weeks ago!

It was just one of the highlights of last night’s incredible tasting, along with The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon – dedicated to “Big Bill” – and The Pioneer – dedicated to Mr Taylor’s father, Bill.

But the most excitement for the wine writers was reserved for The Legacy 2015, the second vintage release of Taylors pinnacle wine retailing at $1,000 per bottle which Mr Taylor described as “a meal in itself”.

“The fruit from the 2015 vintage was exceptional – in both yield and quality. Cabernet enjoyed an extended time on vine during this vintage, resulting in a beautiful harmony of acid structure and fruit concentration. The journey of building each part of this wine is incredibly fulfilling. From there, it’s a test of patience while the wine matures in a selection of exceptionally rare barrels from Jean Louis Vicard,” Mr Taylor said.

It must be said, it is a pretty amazing tasting drop. How fortunate to share in the Taylors Wines’ journey some fifty years down the road and this winery’s legacy to Australian wine.

The Collection
  • St Andrews Clare Valley Riesling 2022 RRP: $43
  • St Andrews Clare Valley Chardonnay 2019 RRP: $43
  • St Andrews Clare Valley Shiraz 2018 A shiraz that exemplifies the best of Clare Valley winemaking and terroir. RRP: $75
  • St Andrews Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 A bold Clare Valley cabernet that stays true to the classic Australian style of rich reds which are intense in flavour and texture. Crafted to be enjoyed in its youth, it will also age gracefully over the long-term. RRP: $75
  • Masterstroke McLaren Vale Shiraz 2019 The Masterstroke Shiraz 2019 delivers the ultimate illustration of the varietal and regional expression of McLaren Vale. The wine can be enjoyed now and will also develop well during long-term cellaring. RRP: $60
  • Masterstroke Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019: The Masterstroke Cabernet Sauvignon displays the distinct regional expression of the Coonawarra. Crafted for immediate enjoyment but will cellar over the long term under ideal conditions. RRP: $60
  • Masterstroke Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019: The Masterstroke Cabernet Sauvignon displays the distinct regional expression of the Coonawarra. Crafted for immediate enjoyment but will cellar over the long term under ideal conditions. RRP: $60
  • Masterstroke Clare Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2017 The Masterstroke Cabernet Shiraz is a sublimely complex and multi-layered wine crafted to display the diverse regional terroir of the Clare Valley. The wine is primed for graceful ageing. RRP: $60
  • The Pioneer Clare Valley Shiraz 2015 The Pioneer Shiraz is an exceptional Clare Valley Shiraz crafted from the finest fruit grown by the Taylor family on their Clare Valley estate. This pinnacle release is a bold step in the Taylor family’s continued journey across generations to craft refined and distinctive shiraz wines that rival the world’s best. The 2015 vintage delivered exceptional yield and high fruit quality.This wine is immediately approachable but will develop exceptionally in the cellar for up to 20 years from release. RRP: $275
  • The Visionary Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 This pinnacle release cabernet sauvignon is crafted from the finest fruit selection and is entirely estate grown and bottled on the Taylor family estate in the Clare Valley. It delivers poised elegance and depth that reflects its carefully selected provenance, vinification and cellaring. Crafted for immediate enjoyment but will develop exceptionally over the long term under ideal conditions. RRP: $275
  • The Legacy 2015 In the Clare Valley, the growing season in the lead-up to vintage 2015 saw slightly higher than average amounts of rainfall initially and then very little fell, making it the driest August recorded at the estate. The heart and soul of The Legacy’s barrel program was maturation in Jean Louis Vicard barrels – a special selection by the cooperage of their finest 36-month-old, fine-grained and lightly toasted barrels. The wine enjoyed 36 months of maturation in a cool, temperature-controlled cellar, allowing the oak to impart powerful savoury characters and textural richness. RRP: $1000

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