AT THE age of 61 family patriarch "Big Bill" Taylor aimed to produce an Australian red that matched the great Chateau Mouton Rothschilds of Bordeaux when the Taylors wine company was founded in 1969 in the southern Clare Valley.
On what had been a dairy farm on the Wakefield River at Auburn, the Taylors planted 178 hectares of red vines of which 162 hectares was cabernet sauvignon - then the largest planting of the variety in the Southern Hemisphere.
It was proudly an all-red wine producer, something that became way out of synch with a dramatic public switch to white wines in the 1970s. That forced the grafting of 45 per cent of its red vines to white varieties - a heartache alleviated when the company was able to produce excellent whites.
Then in 2005 Bill's vision was answered when the Taylors 2001 Clare Valley St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon won trophies for the best cabernet sauvignon and best single-estate wine at the 2005 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.
Adaptability is a hallmark of Taylors' operation, demonstrated in it maintaining its Clare identity but moving into multi-regional production, initially in 2000 with its Jaraman range of wines. That brought almost immediate success when the $29.95 2002 Jaraman Clare Valley-Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon was judged the best Australian Bordeaux varietal in the 2005 Decanter magazine World Wine Awards in the UK.
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Now the winemaking team headed by Adam Eggins, remembered as Pokolbin-based site manager and chief winemaker at Rothbury Estate up until 1999, has introduced a $60-a-bottle Masterstroke multi-regional range of a 2019 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019 McLaren Vale Shiraz and 2016 Clare Valley Cabernet-Shiraz.
Taylors managing director Mitchell Taylor said Masterstroke's aim was to highlight the "hero" grape varieties in which Clare, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale shone. Mitchell, a qualified winemaker, is the third-generation family member to head the Taylors operation founded by his grandfather.
Bega-born "Big Bill" won a scholarship to Sydney's St Joseph's College, studied law at Sydney University, served as a NSW judge's associate, then became a Sydney publican with his sons Bill Junior and John. The Taylors loved Clare wines, and for 20 years bought them for their hotels. The purchases were largely from the now-extinct Clarevale Co-op and in 1969 Big Bill and his sons became Clare vignerons, now with 400 hectares of vineyard and the top Halliday Wine Companion five red stars ranking.
McLAREN VALE VIM
AVAILABLE on taylorswines.com.au, bottle shops and lockdowns-permitting at the Taylors Rd, Auburn, cellar door, the Taylors 2019 Masterstroke McLaren Vale Shiraz has 14.5% alcohol, lavender scents, deep purple hues and intense plum front-palate flavour. The middle has rhubarb, briar, dark chocolate and mocha oak and a minty tannin finish.
DRINK WITH: moussaka.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 6)
THIS archetypal Coonawarra Taylors 2019 Masterstroke Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon has 14% alcohol, purple-tinted crimson hues and a forest floor nose. Vibrant blackcurrant flavour zips in on the front palate, mulberry, spice, spearmint and savoury oak marry on the middle palate and dusty tannins show at the finish.
DRINK WITH: honey and soy glazed pork fillet.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5 stars
TOP VINTAGE BLEND
FROM what is regarded as a great Clare vintage, the 14.5%-alcohol Taylors 2016 Masterstroke Clare Valley Cabernet-Shiraz is bright garnet in the glass and has berry pastille aromas. The front palate features zingy blackberry flavour, the middle palate cherry, mint, herb and cedary oak and dusty tannins display at the finish.
DRINK WITH: pork and veal casserole.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars
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