I was hosting wine dinners and events in Australia during October and Wakefield’s Jaraman Shiraz was a firm favourite with my Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney audiences; we tasted it against Guigal’s St. Joseph, a Syrah from France’s Northern Rhone Valley. Don’t forget Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape. For all my Aussie readers, your ‘Taylor’s’ label goes under the ‘Wakefield’ banner in the UK.
Wakefield’s Jaraman is everything a good Aussie Shiraz should be; rich, crisp yet concentrated, with supple tannins, (the stuff from the skins that puckers and dries your mouth), a good depth of colour and packed with dense blackberry fruit.
The wine is called ‘Jaraman’ after the Australian Aboriginal word for ‘seahorse’, a classy logo that features on all the Wakefield (and Taylor’s) labels. Founder Bill Taylor and his sons discovered the fossilised remains of tiny seahorses in the soil during the excavations of the first vineyard on their Clare Valley estate back in 1969, “the area was once an ancient inland sea and confirmed that the ‘terra rossa’ soils were uniquely fertile”, he recalled.
The fruit in the Jaraman 2013 comes from two famous vineyard regions of South Australia, namely McLaren Vale and Clare Valley, “to create a single varietal yet multidimensional wine which reflects the individual qualities of both terroirs”, is Wakefield’s official line. Outside this flowery wine talk though, this wine really does have layers of black fruit flavours on it’s lingering “finish”, (that’s how long the flavours stay in your mouth after swallowing by the way). Just check it out, and remember, the length of the ‘finish’ is a really good indicator of wine quality.
McLaren Vale is located inland from Adelaide where its shallow red sandy soil (overlying beneficial limestone) vineyards enjoy moderate temperatures thanks to its proximity to the sea and the cooling winds from the adjacent Gulf of St. Vincent, (well named as Vincent is the patron saint of wine!). It wasn’t so long ago that McLaren Vale was looked upon as ‘generally warm’ but a new generation of winemakers has realised that this complex valley has aspects, altitudes and slopes that create myriad microclimates. These individual plots, expertly matched to different grape varieties and soils are now highlighting McLaren Vale’s true potential.
On the other hand, Clare Valley, north of Adelaide, (red loam over limestone for the trainspotters), is cooler, which adds a crisp, mouthwatering acidity to the blend, the result of vineyard altitudes and afternoon breezes that herald an evening chill, just perfect after a day of wonderful sunshine. OK, it’s not the cheapest Aussie Shiraz on your local shelf but if you’re feeling flush it’s well worth a pull.
If you’re feeling very rich after the festive season, or hit lucky on the lottery, search out a bottle of Taylor’s ‘The Pioneer’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2012. It’s named in honour of Bill Taylor, the family patriache and Clare Valley pioneer and is one super wine, mind you, it should be at AUS$200 a pop! With its crisp, rich blackberry, mulberry and plum fruit, grippy yet ripe tannins, overtones of chocolate spice and long, long finish it will set you back about £80 in the UK. so it’s not for the fainted hearted wine lover.
Here’s a question for you. There’s one thing with Taylor’s top wine that won’t worry the Aussie wine enthusiast one iota but will send shock waves through most UK. consumers. What is it? Even with an £80 tag, it’s not the price. The answer? This exceptional wine comes with a screwcap! I’m a big fan but I know that many UK consumers can’t quite get their head around top wines coming under screwcap. Will we ever see Cru Classe Bordeaux in screwcap I wonder? Will pigs fly? Anyway, if you get the chance to ‘click’ the screwcap on ‘The Pioneer’ you’ll be a very happy drinker.
My best wishes for a Vintage New Year!