Tasting Taylor’s Wakefield Wines at Marcel’s Restaurant

Earlier this week I attended a superb tasting and dinner at Marcel’s Restaurant in DC which was hosted by Jim Caudill of Brown-Forman for Neil Hadley, Marketing Director of theTaylorfamily’s Wakefield Vineyards inClare ValleyAustralia.It was a great opportunity to taste their wines and to learn more about the operations of this highly successful winery from a knowledgeable insider like Neil Hadley.Of course, the opportunity to dine at Marcel’s with these wines added to the attraction.

Wakefieldis a family owned and operated winery that has been in operation for three generations.It was founded just about 40 years ago byBill Taylor, a ClareValleywine merchant and is still managed by Bill Sr. and sons John and Bill.Wakefieldowns some 178 ha in ClaireValleyand today is Australia’s 6th largest winery.Its operations are governed by a philosophy of making high quality Old World estate wines (Bordeaux ) usingNew World winemaking innovation.

In talking with Neil Hadley during dinner, Ilearned thatTaylorhas been doing a good deal ofresearch on water management,wind energy and corks.In water management they been developingimproved ways of retaining irrigation water and reducing evaporation in the vineyards through the application of mulch around vines.In wind energy, they have been looking at options for harnessing theClareValleywinds to generate electric power to offset their carbon footprint.And regarding corks, they have been evaluatingthe impact of corks and screw caps on wine from research done at Penfolds and elsewhere.Niel confirmed that the research has confirmed toTaylorthe advantages of screw caps over corks for their wines.All their wines have had screw caps since 2004..

Taylorhas been in theU.S.market for 2 years and exports three differentWakefieldlabels: Promised Land, Wakefield Estate, andSt. Andrews.During our dinner we tasted samples from each and some of my impressions of the wines are sketched out below.In general, I was favorably impressed with the quality of all the wines and thought they were reasonably priced.They are well made, rich in fruit, nicely balanced and easy drinking with some lovely crisp whites and savory reds.

We began our dinner with two Rieslings, the 2005 Estate Riesling SouthAustralia($17) and the2005 St. Andrews Riesling,South Australia($35)I liked both of these wines; the Estate Riesling was bone dry with good acidity; the St. Andrews Riesling was a step up in quality and richness with lovely honey fruit flavors and a round mouth feel.The St. Andrews Riesling was terrific with Marcel’s Steak Tartare with Cornichons and grilled Baguette.

Two Chardonnays came next: the 2006Promised Land Unwooded Chardonnay SouthAustralia($13) and the 2007 Estate Chardonnay ($17).In confess I was partial to the unoaked Chardonnay with its leesy aromas and tropical fruit flavors.I drank that with Salmon Ravioli, Shaved Fennel and Pear Tomatoes with Prawn Sauce.The i-WineReview has written a full report on unoaked Chardonnay for those interested.

We tasted four delicious reds: the Wakefield 2006 Estate Shiraz, ($17) the 2005 Promized Land Shiraz-Cabernet ($13) the Wakefield 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) and the Wakefield2002 St. Andrews Shiraz. ($55). My favorites were the peppery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruit rich lush St. AndrewsShiraz.TheShirazwas actually my true favority,quite savory with pure fruit flavors, good extraction and balance and round tannins on the finish.Marcel’s Roulade of Rabbit and Lamb Tenderloins were a heavenly match for these wines.

All in all, I think readers will enjoy these well-made wines and the prices they are being offered for on the market.Be sure to drink them with good food!!

Mike Potashnik
International Wine Review

August 15, 2008

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