Winery Spotlight: Taylors Wines

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Vintage Cellars
May 14, 2019
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We're celebrating family-owned Taylors Wines’ 50-year anniversary of leading the charge in the craft of winemaking.

It is said a great wine becomes greater with age, and the same is true for great wineries. With 50 years of winemaking excellence behind it, it's no wonder Taylors Wines is continuing to redefine and dominate the wine market with its multi-award-winning products. From the 1973 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Estate Hermitage — both milestones in their own right and perfect representations of the foundation that built this incredible name — its winemaking genius is known far and wide. It is with great pleasure and privilege we at Vintage Cellars join in on the celebrations and bring Taylor's remarkable story to our readers.

The beginnings

Pioneers come in all shapes and sizes, but when visionary Sydney hoteliers, the Taylor family, planted Australia’s largest cabernet sauvignon vineyard in 1969, a new bar was set. It’s hard to believe now, but 50 years ago cabernet sauvignon grapes were scarce, with the Coonawarra push (led by another pioneer, David Wynn) yet to gain its full momentum. The selection of cabernet sauvignon was no whim but motivated by Bill Taylor Snr’s love of the great "clarets" of Bordeaux.

It all started back in the 1950s when the Taylor family partnered with South Australia's Clare Valley Co-operative to bottle wine under the Chateau Clare brand — a nod to the great "châteaux" of Bordeaux.

In 1969, inspired by these wines, family patriarch, Bill Taylor Snr, purchased a 178-hectare site at Auburn, near the Wakefield River in the Clare Valley. Bill’s sons, Bill and John, joined the venture with young Bill the driving force. Bill's son Mitchell is now Managing Director with Justin Taylor Export Manager and Clinton Taylor General Manager of Winery Operations. And yes, there’s another Taylor generation in the wings.

The milestones

The Taylors winery was built in time for the inaugural 1973 vintage with just two reds made, the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Estate Hermitage — the synonym for shiraz at the time. The wines were an instant success, both in the show ring and in the market. Sydney wine merchants were given an allocation with their customers vying for a few bottles — securing a case was a rare treat. In 1981, the Taylor family purchased an adjacent property and named it the "Promised Land". The historic St Andrews vineyard, which dates back to 1892, came into the Taylor fold in 1995.

Taylors was a pioneering force behind the revolutionary drive towards screwcap. In 2000 it and other local producers launched the Clare Valley Riesling screwcap initiative. Taylors was also the first to move their total production to screwcap in 2004. In 2009, Taylors became a founding member of Australia’s First Families of Wine.

Today, Taylors' estate covers 750 hectares with 430 hectares under vine — an impressive resource for a family wine company. The Taylors’ winemaking team has been led by Adam Eggins for 20 of the Taylors’ 50 years.

The wines

The Taylors’ portfolio has expanded from its first two reds and the Clare Valley’s hero white grape, riesling. To include the Promised Land series (offering exceptional value for money), the Estate series (at the heart of Taylor's showcase) and The Legacy sitting proudly at the pinnacle. Moreover, the St Andrews Shiraz has an amazing show record, exemplified by the 2013 vintage.

Two icons have been forged — The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon is a tribute to Bill Taylor Snr and his vision to make a top Bordeaux-style red in the Clare Valley. Wine show judges have affirmed his dream. The Pioneer Shiraz acknowledges Bill Taylor’s championing of Clare Valley shiraz, his pioneering spirit inspiring his descendants.

The successes

Winning the Montgomery Trophy for Best Red Wine at the Adelaide Wine Show with the Taylors’ inaugural 1973 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon set a high bar, which has now been surpassed many times.

The 2013 St Andrews Shiraz becomes the most-awarded wine ever; its 31 gold medals capped a trophy for Best Shiraz at Shanghai International Wine Challenge and the trophy for the Clare Valley Wine of the Year at China Wine and Spirits Awards. In 2018, Taylors received the supreme award for World’s Best Cabernet at the Concours International des Cabernets for the 2014 The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2017, the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists awarded Taylors the World’s Most Awarded Winery and the World’s Most Awarded Wine from a field of more than 50,000 producers. The accolades keep on coming.

The Legacy release

Taylors has punctuated its 50th anniversary with the release of a new wine called The Legacy. The wine celebrates the founding purpose of the South Australian wine producer, which was to craft a new world wine to stand tall against those of old-world Bordeaux, namely Mouton Rothschild. The Legacy is predominantly cabernet sauvignon, with small parcels of merlot and cabernet franc. It hails from the 2014 vintage, which Mitchell Taylor believes was one of Taylors' best years. Chief winemaker Adam Eggins allows the wine an extended skin contact period, in barrel, which gently softens the tannin profile and creates a sublime texture to the wine.