Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday drinks with Justin Taylor, Adam Eggins, a hammock, a book and a wine...

'A hammock and a good book sort of wine' is the best tasting note I've heard all year, not least because it's nearing that time when hefty work loads and overwhelm take their toll, so a hammock, a good book and a great wine hold a lot appeal.

The description comes from Justin Taylor, who was talking about the 2021 Taylors Merlot, made by winemaker Adam Eggins and which we three were tasting on a Zoom meeting last week. Taylors Wines is a family owned company based in the Clare Valley, Australia and Eggins is the chief winemaker.

Our meeting was primarily a chance to talk and taste three new-ish reds in the Taylors stable of wines, but it was also a chance to talk about the turbulence of climate change, the need to blend grapes from more than one region to handle wider vintage variations with more unpredictable weather patterns than in the past - and also what makes a wine great. We decided on one word when it comes to great wine - more-ishness. 

It's not exactly a technical tasting term but it works just as well, if not better, because it describes how a wine feels when it tastes good. More-ish. Meaning: you want more, which is exactly how the first wine of the new trio of reds from Taylors made us all feel. It wasn't the alcohol, at least not for yours truly, because the spittoon was full partway through the tasting; purely in the interests of being professional, that is. It was work hours and these were a trio of deliciously more-ish reds, all hammock-worthy wines and all, surprisingly, affordable at around $20 each.

It's times like this that I wish I was still writing my annual best buys under $20...

2021 Taylors Merlot Clare Valley Limestone Coast RRP $20
More-ishl Merlot made with grapes from two regions; the warm Mediterranean like heat of the Clare Valley and the cooler climate of the Limestone Coast, 400 kilometres south. Oak maturation in this wine is all in previously used barrels of typically four years old+. This is all about controlled oxidative maturation rather than adding nuances of spice and cedar and oaky aromas, per se... Medium body, delicious deep dark fruit flavours of ripe black plums and the warmth of fresh berries.
“Is the world going to get hotter or colder? We’ve just had one of the wettest years ever. Having vineyards in different regions allows us to retain a house style.”

“The Cabernet grape is lethally more tannic.”
Justin Taylor and Adam Eggins and I all chose different wines… Justin (his dad Bill Taylor) would take the Merlot to the hammock. 

2021 Taylors Merlot Clare Valley Limestone Coast RRP $20
A mindful Merlot… old American oak barrels allowed the retention of fruit without adding new oak into the wine. Older wood of over four years of age usually and can be French or American -to retain Probably the lightest of these three reds and … considers Merlot more of a medium bodied red which doesn’t quite have the oak or tannin depth to taste it after Shiraz. About 55/45 Clare/Limestone… 

2020 Taylors Shiraz Limestone Coast Clare Valley RRP $20
Ever since this wine won a trophy in Argentina, the winery sold about four months’ worth of wine in six weeks in New Zealand. almost totally sold out in Australia. 70% Limestone Coast, 30% Clare. 
Clare is on the warmer end of Australian viticulture and in cold years that is a gift from god but in hot years they need more fruit from 400kms or so south and about a month later, so if they can merge with places like Wrattonbully, they can protect themselves and in 2020 the power came from Clare and the delicacy and juiciness came from the Limestone Coast. Using the cooler region to balance the turbulence of global warming.
Not trying to engineer an Australian Shiraz. 

2020 Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon Limestone Coast Clare Valley RRP $20
Beautiful dark juicy blueberry and dark blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. “You just leave the vines in the sun hoping to get to this point and then you harvest as fast as you can but this wine seems to be holding this aroma beautifully.”
The complexity of Cabernet. This wine is a juicy deliciously dark Cabernet Sauvignon.”
One of the flavours we love in Cabernet is herbaceous tobacco but only a little bit of it which can be absolutely gorgeous.  

So concentrated of flavour is rich with depth.  The 2020 is still available in New Zealand and like the 2020 Shiraz, it will change over to the next vintage. Using regional blends to manage seasonal variation. 

For the first 30 years of Taylors Wines they were a house of Cabernet but Shiraz has overtaken it. Dad was a Cabernet guy; Justin Taylor says, but now Shiraz has outgrown it and Australia is very good at Shiraz.