IN THE 1970s multi-millionaire US businessman, philanthropist and art collector John Goelet, a descendant of the French Guestier wine merchant family, sent winemaker Bernard Portet on a global quest for sites equal to the great vineyards of Bordeaux.
Bernard, the son of Chateau Lafite winemaker Andre Portet, made his way around Europe, the US and Australia, where he was impressed by the Pyrenees area Taltarni vineyard, planted in 1969 near the old western Victorian gold rush town of Avoca by a group led by Ballarat earth-moving contractor Wal Henning.
Bernard's prime recommendation to Goelet, however, was California's Napa Valley and that led in 1972 to establishment of Clos Du Val vineyard and winery under Bernard Portet's management. That wasn't the end of Goelet-Portet in Australia because the Henning group folded in 1972, allowing John Goelet to buy the site.
The first winemaker was David Hohnen, later founder of Cape Mentelle at Margaret River and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand's Marlborough area. In 1976 Hohnen was succeeded at Taltarni by the gifted Dominique Portet, younger brother of Bernard Portet.
Today John Goelet's family have an impressive wine empire of Clos du Val, Taltarni, the Clover Hill and Lalla Gully vineyards at Pipers River in Northern Tasmania and Domaine de Nizas in France's Languedoc area.
Heading the Taltarni and Clover Hill operations is 42-year-old chief winemaker Robert Heywood, a man with a great passion for red wine. Robert grew up in Victoria's Western District, did school holiday work on farms and then took a gap year to tour the UK and Europe. There he gained interest in wine and viticulture, leading on his return to Australia to a La Trobe University viticulture and winemaking degree.
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Stints followed making wine in the Barossa, in Bordeaux's St Emilion in 2004 and 2006 and the Napa Valley in 2008. He returned to Victoria in 2009 to join Goelet Wine Estates and take on the tasks of producing premium cool-climate Taltarni reds, whites and sparkling wines and the top-rank Clover Hill bubblies.
The flagship of his Taltarni red portfolio is the $120 The Patron Cabernet-Shiraz, the 2017 vintage of which will be released soon. Available now is a fine batch of new reds - the $75 2019 Reserve Shiraz-Cabernet, $50 2019 Old Vine Estate Shiraz, $45 2018 Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, $40 2018 Pyrenees Estate Shiraz and $26 2020 Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre and 2020 Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon. All are at taltarni.com.au, the Moonambel winery and bottle shops.
WITH 14.5% alcohol, deep purple hues and potpourri aromas, the Taltarni 2019 Reserve Shiraz Cabernet has spicy blackcurrant front-palate flavour. Maraschino cherry, plum, spearmint, dark chocolate and cedary oak show on the middle and peppery tannins at the finish. At taltarni.com.au and the Taltarni Rd, Moonambel, winery and wine stores.
DRINK WITH: osso bucco.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars (out of 6)
BLENDING 45% grenache, 37% shiraz and 18% mourvedre, this good-value Taltarni 2020 Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre shines ruby red in the glass and has14% alcohol and lavender aromas. The front palate shows ripe raspberry flavour, the middle palate Satsuma plum, briar, black pepper and mocha oak and chalky tannins play at the finish.
DRINK WITH: chicken cacciatore.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
GLEE FROM THE 60S
FROM a vineyard first planted in the 1960s, the Taltarni 2018 Old Vine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon glows deep garnet and has 14% alcohol and berry pastille scents. Juicy blackberry flavour features on the front palate, bramble jelly, herb, mint, Turkish delight chocolate and savoury oak marry on the middle and the finish has dusty tannins.
DRINK WITH: roast pork.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5 stars
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