wine-pages.com
Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com   

Wakefield, Australia

by Tom Cannavan, 02/12

Confusingly enough, readers in the southern Hemisphere will know these wines under the Taylors brand. The Taylors company was established by Bill Taylor in the 1960s, but that was some considerable time after the renowned Port house of the same name, hence the need for a change of name in Europe and certain other territories where both wines are sold.

family Sydney wine merchant Bill Taylor, along with sons John and Bill junior, found their dream site "after a considerable search." The sizeable site of 178 hectares sits by the Wakefield River in the Clare Valley. The red/brown loam soil ("terra rossa") on a bedrock of limestone, along with the cooler nights in the Clare region of hot South Australia, seemed ideal for the production of quality wines, both red and white. Today the company is run by Mitchell Taylor, son of Bill Jr., with brothers Justin (in charge of US business) and Clinton (Sales & Production Manager). Their father Bill is Chairman and is still fully involved making this very much a family company. Pictured are Bill and Mitchell, with Justin and Clinton behind.

One of Wakefield's stated aims is to "achieve balance, elegance and finesse in every wine," and indeed across the portfolio these wines display a fine combination of fruit and power with freshness and food-friendly appeal. They believe the Clare is an almost unique territory for wine growing, able to produce delicate, aromatic Riesling alongside rich, full-bodied Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. A little altitude, with their vineyards at 350 metres above sea level, and a large diurnal temperature range with warm days and cold nights is the key.

The company is not afraid of innovation either, being the first in Australia to move their entire production under screwcap and with a new custom-designed wine facility opening in time for the 2009 vintage. With their modest prices and high quality, these are commendable examples of totally modern, yet traditionally-rooted Australian wines.

white wines

Wakefield, Eighty Acres Clare Valley Chardonnay Viognier 2010, Australia
Eighty Acres is a range of wines from Wakefield, all of which are certified 'carbon neutral'. This Chardonnay and Viognier blend is typical of the Wakefield style with its modest use of oak allowing fragrant, floral Viognier notes of apricot and downy peach skins to come through on the nose, whilst the dry apple bite of the fruit and acidity on the palate is just supported by a whisper of creaminess. It does not have the longest of finishes, but it is an intelligent, dry and barely oaked style that will find fans. 87/100. 10.99, Whole Foods, Slurp, Nidderdale Wines, Sipp. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

chardonnay Wakefield, Clare Valley Riesling 2010, Australia
The grape that made the Clare famous in the UK, not just on quality, but as the first wine region in the world to unilaterally switch to screwcap for all Riesling wines back in the '90s. This is a typically bone-dry example, which exhibits masses of lime and lemon fruit on the nose, as well as a hint of that beeswaxy mineral note. On the palate it really is dry, and has a mountain stream clarity. It perhaps lacks a little of the weight and intensity I'd like to see to elevate it to gold standard, but there's no denying the invigorating and delicious grapefruity zest of this wine. 89/100. 10.99, Waitrose. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Wakefield, St Andrews Chardonnay 2008, Australia
This Clare Valley wine is yet another super-premium Chardonnay from Australia that proves definitively that the country's reputation for over-oaked, over-blown 'Chardy' really does deserve to be buried deep and forgotten about. With a modest 13% alcohol and a gorgeous nose shimmering with white flower, lemon and delicate Kendal mint cake aromas, there's a touch of honey and vanilla from careful barrel fermentation and ageing. But the palate is all about creaminess of texture melding with pin-sharp flavours, with white fruits and lime, and the nutty elegance of the oak in the finish. Beautifully made. 93/100. 18.50, Slurp. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher

red wines

Wakefield, Clare Valley Shiraz 2008, Australia
shiraz Shiraz is one of the Clare's signature varieties, and indeed this was a really strong showing within the Wakefield range. In some ways fairly 'old school' with its 14.5% alcohol and ageing in spicy American oak, it is also beautifully done and authentic. The nose offers bags os spice, deep berry fruit and chocolate, with a slick of vanilla and smoky, charry meat notes. On the palate that enveloping spicy and ripe black fruit richness floods across the tongue, finishing with spicy tannins, mellow oak and balanced acidity. Delicious. 90/100. Around 10.99. Majestic may have this in store though they show the 2009 vintage online. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Wakefield, Eighty Acres Clare Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008, Australia
The addition of some of the white wine grape Viognier to this carbon neutral certified wine is immediately obvious on the nose, the lifted, lightly floral and peachy perfume elegantly unusual in a red, sitting here atop some spicy plum and fruit compote aromas. On the palate the chocolaty richness and fleshy plum depth takes over, with plenty of spice and coffee adding layers of substantial depth. That little brighter note does give some spark, as spicy tannins and balanced acidity extend the finish. This is dangerously drinkable 90/100. 10.35, Slurp. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Wakefield, Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Australia
This opaque, purple-black wine offers aromas of cassis and mint, a touch of eucalyptus, and something more herbal too, hinting at a dusty earthiness. On the palate it delivers plenty of sweet, cassis-ripe and black cherry fruit that is lightly touched with vanilla to add to the sweet-fruited mid-palate impression, but a little bit of sinew makes itself known into the finish, a pepper and spice note and fairly firm, lean tannins and acidity adding to the food-friendly credentials. 89/100. 10.99, Majestic. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com