I suspect most of us in the wine game see the words ‘Pioneer’ and ‘Visionary’ used so much that their meaning is lost nowadays. That’s marketing for you. But every once in a while you come across people who truly are pioneers or visionaries. If they’re alive, they still have their initial enthusiasm, and always humble. If they have passed away, they have become stuff of legends, are remain highly respected. The next generation following on from these pioneers and visionaries often carry on the dream with the same exuberance, but in reality there aren’t many of the children that quite do their forebears justice.
The Taylor family in the Clare Valley is one of these multi-generational inspired groups that seem to continue the earlier work with great fervour. In fact, I’d say that the current generation are more active than ever and believe more fully in the original inspiration. The Taylor family were Sydney wine merchants who partnered with the Clare Valley Co-operative in 1950 to make the Chateau Clare label. It was Bill Taylor who purchased land to establish their family winegrowing estate in the Clare Valley, and the rest is history, as they say.
The third generation of Taylors have given tribute to Bill Taylor in making ‘The Visionary’ Cabernet Sauvignon and recently ‘The Pioneer’ Shiraz. These are the very best wines that Taylors can make. The fruit comes from the best parcels in their Clare Valley Estate. And then it’s a rigorous barrel selection process. Clearly the barrels with the best fruit make it, but also, the selection team have a nose and palate out for the special qualities of the Vicard coopered French oak. After a couple of vintages of these wines, I believe I can see what they are seeking out – ethereal beauty!
The 2013 Taylors ‘The Pioneer’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2013 is superb Shiraz with ripe dark and black berried fruits, black plums, Oriental spices, black pepper and pervasive but ethereal oak. Exoticism for sure. Beautifully refined on palate, silky even, but make no mistake, there’s plenty of structure. The fruit richness grows and blossoms, and merges with the oak layering perfectly. Sheer opulence, exoticism, lusciousness, power with incredible finesse. I’d be scoring this wine as perfection. This is only the second release of this label.
What a great comparison of varietal expression was made by having the 2013 Taylors ‘The Visionary’ Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Almost as dark as ‘The Pioneer’, this had intensity depth and a concentration that was up a level. Then that blackcurranty and cassis edge. Herbs, mint, but none of the menthol and eucalypt that can accompany the true Cabernet character. The beautiful ethereal and exotic oak was also there. To me personally, not quite as a perfect match as it was with the fruit in ‘The Pioneer’. A little more acidity and a little more firmness. Cabernet Sauvignon is of course, Taylors signature variety.
As usual, at this level, it’s a matter of personal preference as to which is best. You can tell I went for the Shiraz. SWMBO voted for the Cabernet. We shared the wines with the Bassinet Babes, and again a split decision. One thing was clear to us, these wines were true to and worthy of the labels 'Pioneer' and 'Visionary'.