The Taylor family kicked off their winery in 1969, after scoring a 430-acre vineyard near the Wakefield River in Southern Australia’s Clare Valley region. These wines are known as Taylor’s in Australia but, due to trademark restrictions, they’re labeled as Wakefield in the Northern Hemisphere.
At more than 1,100 feet above sea level, the Taylor vineyards get plenty of sun but receive the benefit if large diurnal temperature swings. The resulting wines are rich in flavor but structured and vibrant. The St. Andrews wines come from the estate fruit grown in their terra rossa soil, while the Jaraman wines are blended with fruit from other sites. Wakefield also produces two stunning high-end wines, the Pioneer Shiraz and Visionary Cabernet, from the best plots in their vineyards. (I reviewed these wines in November 2015. Spoiler: they are amazing.)
Today, the Taylor’s/Wakefield winemaking team is composed of Mitchell Taylor (Managing Director), Adam Eggins (Chief Winemaker), and winemakers Chad Bowman (who joined in 2003) and Phillip Reschke (who joined in 2013).
I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.
2014 Wakefield Riesling St Andrews – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley SRP: $40 Pale straw color. Smells of sliced limes, white peach, nectarine, floral perfume and a complex mix of chalk and dusty minerality. Crisp and lively on the palate but some waxy texture adds depth. Green apple, kiwi, orange rind, lime, the fruit is pure and driven. This Riesling possesses a deep sense of minerals, mountain stream, smashed rocks and chalk. So clean, zesty and vibrant. A gorgeous Clare Valley Riesling. (91 points IJB)
2014 Wakefield Chardonnay Jaraman – Australia SRP: $25 Medium gold color. Bold aromatics of apricot and baked yellow apples, topped with chopped nuts, honey, white tea and a hint of chalk. Creamy texture on the palate, but balanced out a bit by moderate acidity. Fresh apricot and yellow apple fruit mix with notes of cinnamon, clove and nougat, but the French oak elements are woven in well. Some white flower and chalk flavors as well. Fun, juicy, toasty stuff but the freshness keeps this interesting. 55% of the fruit comes from Clare Valley while 45% comes from Margaret River. (87 points)
2012 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon Jaraman – Australia, South Australia, Clare Valley – Coonawarra SRP: $30 Saucy purple color. Gorgeous blueberry, dark currants and plums, along with smoke, some dark earth, clove and black pepper. Full and saucy with chewy tannins and some surprising moderate acidity. Blackberry and blueberry jam, the fruit is bold but smooth. Some smoky, peppery, savory spice to accent the richer elements of cedar, vanilla and cola. Chewy and rich but maintains some freshness and some nuanced non-fruit elements. I’d like to see this in three or four years. Most of the fruit comes from Clare Valley, but 28% comes from Coonawarra. (89 points)
Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon St Andrews – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley SRP: $60 Bright purple color. Rich but tart black and red currants, some exotic eucalyptus, violets and complex spice tones add an attractive sense of warmth. The currant and plum fruit is tart, crunchy but fully ripe, and the wine glides across the palate despite the firm tannic structure, and I get some freshness from the acidity that makes this wine so pleasant to drink young. Earth, eucalyptus, clove, coffee, well-integrated amounts of cedar and vanilla. Long, full but elegant, accessible young but I’d love to lay this down for five or six years and revisit it. Wow, this is a very pretty wine. If you’re looking for a more nuanced and elegant Cabernet, check out Clare Valley, and this wine in particular. Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. (91 points)
2014 Wakefield Shiraz Jaraman – Australia, South Australia SRP: $30 Rich purple color. Dark and saucy aromas, like fig paste, plum skin, some blueberry jam, some vanilla coffee and sweet oak. Chewy but maintains a velvety feel from the tannins, medium acidity helps ton down the loud fruit (black cherry, blackberry, blueberry). I get notes of vanilla, cola, eucalyptus, roasted red pepper, and sweet black olive. Mouthfilling but stays relatively smooth and fresh. 55% of the fruit comes from Clare Valley and 45% comes from McLaren Vale, aged in American oak barrels. (87 points)
2013 Wakefield Shiraz St Andrews – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley SRP: $60 Deep purple color. Concentrated aromas, but vigorous swirling coaxes out blackberry, blueberry and rich plum fruit, along with dusty-loamy soil, coffee grounds, violets, graphite and cedar. A gorgeous mouthfeel on the palate with refined tannins, moderate acid and silky-rich fruit. The blackberry, plum and blueberry fruit is full but refreshing. I get spiced coffee, clove, eucalyptus, fallen leaves, black olives and pepper glaze. Complex and full of flavor, but a gliding mouthfeel keeps it smooth. Drink now with a very good decant or hold for three to six years at least. Aged 20 months in American oak. (91+ points)