What goes into making the world’s most awarded wine?
How we have managed to do this?
A few years later at a conference I heard a legendary leader in wine, & Michael Hill Smith, describing his journey into achieving his Master of Wine qualification. Michael said: ‘For three years, I deliberately avoided drinking Australian wine because I wanted to understand international wine.’
From that point on my love and desire to understand international wine styles has flourished.
An odd event happened around a similar time zone of our greatest wines was judged domestically and received a horrific score. Now, all wineries and their wines receive bad scores here and there, but this score was for one of our greatest efforts in wine. What had happened?
After a few weeks of deep reflection, often considering ‘am I in the right profession, an amazing thing happened. The same wine took out two major trophies in the UK - Best Cabernet in the IWSC London and Best Single Vineyard Wine in the same event.
What just happened? What is going on? What does it all mean?
A few years later at an industry event, another great leader in Australian wine gave me some advice. That wonderful gentleman was Bill Hardy. I was given a tip off that Bill had a secret bottle of very special chardonnay hiding behind the bar for interested parties, so I summoned up the nerve, went and introduced myself, and asked to taste the mysterious Chardonnay. I thanked Bill and was about to leave when Bill said: ‘You need to get your wines into the Tokyo International Wine Challenge’. Bill continued: ‘Do it and they will be rewarded’.
Two years later Taylors Wines was named International Red Winemaker of the Year at that very show in Tokyo. And then a thought occurred to me: ‘Why would Bill Hardy do that?’ The only answer I could find was to help fly the flag for Australian Wine overseas.
From that moment on we focused on proving ourselves and the quality of our wines at international wine shows. There is one thing better than winning a trophy in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney and that is to win international trophies in Paris, Germany, the Rhone Valley, Belgium, Vienna, Hong Kong, Chile, Mendoza, New Zealand, Canada, America…the list goes on.
The World Ranking of Wines & Spirits is a culmination of these efforts and there are some important highlights from the 2017 report worth mentioning:
Beyond being named the most awarded winery in the world, Taylors was recognised for the most awarded wines in the Merlot, Chardonnay and Shiraz categories. This is a fantastic achievement, not only have we been successful with Shiraz, a star varietal of the region, but with two varieties commonly not associated with the Clare Valley.
Some have said ‘you can’t make chardonnay in the Clare Valley’, but that’s an old saying. It has taken us years to get close to our own ‘chardonnay masterpiece’, about 15 to be honest. It has involved replanting our vineyards with better clones, redesigning the winery process to not crush, but delicately press the fruit and to change our barrel suppliers to dedicated chardonnay specialists in Louis Latour.
Louis Latour deserves special mention because they are one of the few barrel makers on earth that sells wine for a living. They live and breathe Burgundy, so where better to ask for guidance on how to improve chardonnay?
Now to merlot. A French friend in St Emillon calls merlot ‘the fickle one, the most fickle grape on earth’. Debate has raged about what merlot is meant to be in Australia – some say ‘we have the wrong clones in the country’ or ‘it’s all rubbish’.
If you read or taste widely about what great merlot is and if you are lucky enough to visit St Emillon and taste the right bank with three consulting oenologists and an MW, you will see that Merlot can be a mouth filling, generous, rich but ultimately delicate, supple masterpiece. Merlot is a plant, it doesn’t know what country it is growing in.
All you have to do then is find the keys to follow the ‘merlot masterpiece’. It has taken us years of experimenting with ‘the fickle one’ but our Estate Merlot has been rated the most awarded merlot in the 2017 WRW&S varietal category.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the life blood of Taylors Wines and it is gratifying to see them score so strongly across the varietal categories. Five wines in the top ten for both varieties and our Jaraman Shiraz 2014 being the most awarded wine in the world.