The Taylor family clan has demonstrated exceptional loyalty since Bill Taylor Senior established the first vineyards in 1969. He chose the Clare Valley and cabernet sauvignon at a time when fortified wines dominated all sectors of the market, and cabernet was still wet behind its ears. I remember the earliest releases, and the label that was uncomfortably similar to that of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The early wine show results yielded bronze medals, but not the desired golds.
More trials and tribulations followed, but the family remained loyal to the aspirations of Bill Taylor Snr. So it is that Mitchell Taylor was the third managing director when appointed to the role in 2000. His training speaks volumes: first up in 1984 a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of New South Wales before moving to London to work in a large stockbroking firm. Back in South Australia he completed vintages in 1989 to 1997 while studying for his bachelor of science (oenology) at CSU, graduating in 1995. His time at the helm of Taylors has been critically important, supported by Justin Taylor and Clinton Taylor, plus chief winemaker Adam Eggins.
As the cool climate regions began to flex their muscles, and a seemingly endless array of previously unknown varieties were brought through rigid plant quarantine procedures (viz assyrtiko by the Jim Barry tribe) capturing the consumers’ eyes became ever more difficult. Taylors did so, thanks to 400ha of estate vineyards, 250,000 dozen production, and a premium wine range priced from $45 to $220, and finally to a heart-stopping $1000 per bottle for the 2016 The Legacy, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.
The Clare Valley’s key varietals are riesling, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, which also provide the overwhelming majority of Taylors’ portfolio. But it dips into the offering of the Limestone Coast, Yarra Valley (pinot noir), and other regional varietals or blends as opportunities crop up to add to its annual releases. Never a dull mix.
2020 Taylors Masterstroke Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Yields in Coonawarra were down in ’20 due to rain/wind at flowering, the scales balanced by an ideal autumn. Four weeks on skins, thence French tight-grain barrels (40% new) for 18 months maturation. Still holds excellent colour, cassis riding high across the well-balanced palate. No question: a success.
96 points, drink to 2040, 14% alc, Screwcap, $60
2023 Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Riesling
Citrus and apple blossom fills the bouquet and paves the way for a wine of undoubted character on the long palate and lingering juicy finish. Drink whenever, now or in 10 years. Has a great track record.
95 points, drink to 2038, 12% alc, Screwcap, $45
2020 Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Shiraz
The hot, dry vintage with small berries and bunches led to the decision to remove the heads of the American oak barrels for fermentation and soak on skins for 14 days. Post fermentation matured for 18 months in the same barrels. Black and purple fruits drive the palate. The gentle extraction has paid dividends, with fruit easily balancing the tannins.
94 points, drink to 2033, 14.5% alc, Screwcap, $75