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Wakefield Estate Pinot Noir 2010
Originally wine merchants in Sydney, a passion for wine was all part of being a Taylor, and in particular, for the famous French Clarets such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux's Medoc region. It was this long held fascination for these wines which inspired the family’s foray into winemaking, and provides the inspiration and winemaking philosophy behind all Wakefield's winemaking today – to produce premium wines of exceptional and comparable quality in Australia.
It was a single wine - a first growth Bordeaux - which inspired Bill Taylor to take the plunge and to purchase a block of land in the Clare Valley and set about crafting a quality wine, which reflected the terroir and could rival its 'old world' Cabernet Sauvignons.
Almost four decades later, the company remains family owned and the philosophy unchanged. Admittedly, the winery now plants a little more than just cabernet sauvignon – with nearly 750ha of vineyards in the Clare Valley, the family excels in a number of different varieties to make up its extensive, award winning portfolio – from terrific value, everyday drinking wines to the finest Australian wines at the pinnacle of the Wakefield portfolio.
And the same philosophy runs religiously through the family tree today. Following his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, third generation winemaker Mitchell Taylor is well aware of his heritage, and passionate in its continuance. A blend of 'old world' estate philosophy and 'new world' winemaking innovation, combined with an almost fanatical attention to detail and obsession with quality, has kept this dream alive, and resulted in wines of tremendous style and quality.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is often misunderstood by consumers. It is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute critters on the label, though both can certainly be found here. It is impossible to make generalizations about a country this physically massive, but most regions are concentrated in the south of the country and experience either warm, dry weather, or more humid, tropical influence. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing and there is a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.