5 of the best winter reds

“What I love about working in the wine industry is that every now and then you have a wow moment,” said Justin Taylor at today’s tasting of wines from his family’s Aussie winery Taylors of Clare Valley.

The  winery is probably the first in the world to bottle 100% of its wines in screw caps when they joined 16 other producers in the Clare Valley, Australia, in 2000 to launch screw caps as a regional collaboration, which soon tipped the scales of wine closures on both sides of the Tasman.

Today Justin Taylor brought in a bunch of outstanding reds to taste  at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington, including a big, bold and surprisingly savoury Shiraz from 2013 – it’s an eye wateringly pricey wine at about $200 a pop but wow, what a stunner.

It’s the kind of wine that makes you go wow. Like all of these top five drops.

Stunning Shiraz

2013 Taylors The Pioneer Clare Valley Shiraz $200

Yes, it’s pricey and I’m not here to justify how some of us spend our money – not that I had to pay for the great privilege of trying this exceptional wine. It’s a stunner. It goes through a four year maturation process; up to 3 years in oak and further aging in bottle. Old oak plays an important role in this powerful wine with its pronounced flavours of dark fruit, earthiness and spice. The 2012 was the inaugural release and it’s not made every year. I love this wine.


2015 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir North Canterbury $51.99

North Canterbury is one of New Zealand’s most outstanding wine regions for Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay, and also one of the least talked about – surprisingly so, especially when it comes to Pegasus Bay Wines. This family owned and run winery has always put its best forward with whites and while its Pinots have been impressive, this wine takes things to a different level. Dark earthy flavours rub shoulders with vibrant delicate red fruit flavours in this full bodied, dry and refreshing (thanks to Pinot’s high acidity) wine. Every sip lingers. Another stunner from the Peg’ Bay team.


2013 Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz $53

Fourth generation Brown family member Catherine Brown opened the winery’s top drops today – the Patricia wines, which are launched in March each year on the birthday of their namesake; the late Patricia Brown.

Best of the best is the philosophy of the range and this wine shows why. It’s made with grapes grown on four different vineyard sites in Victoria – Henty, Heathcote and two in the King Valley. So it’s cool climate style Shiraz; intense ruby in colour, full bodied, dry and smooth with silky tannins and a long finish. Elegant and lingering.


Malbecs from the mountains

2012 Alta Vista Single Vineyard Serenade Malbec $65-$70ish

This wine was made from grapes grown at over 1000 metres altitude, which were hand harvested, fermented in 5000 litre concrete vats and aged in French oak for 12 months; 50% in brand spanking new oak; 50% in two year old barrels. 

It tastes savoury, dark, dry and intense with a full body and high acidity adding freshness to every earthy sip. A lovely wine which still tastes broodingly youthful, highlighting the amazing power of top tier Malbec. Drinks well now but definitely one best stashed in the cellar.


Taking Malbec to the next level

2012 Alta Vista Single Vineyard Temis $70-ish

Talk about taking Malbec to the next level. This wine was made identically to its sibling above – hand harvested, concrete ferment, French oak… all the same – but the taste is so different. Here we’re talking waves of complex dark flavour – coffee, chocolate and ripe black berry fruit in a powerfully dry, full bodied Malbec. 

These two Malbec are among the top 5 Malbecs that I have ever tasted; the other three also came from Argentina.

Talk about wines that make you go wow.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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