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Wakefield Wines Review - A Visit to Taylor's Winery

By Barbara Keer

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Lunch at a Chicago restaurant introducing Wakefield wines


I was introduced to Wakefield wines from Australia at a special lunch in Chicago a week before I was to leave for Adelaide, South Australia.  I was fascinated with the idea of seeing Taylor’s Winery, which produces Wakefield wines, in person.  My husband and I did visit the winery because I learned about Life is a Cabernet.  Company founder, Ralf Hadzig, designed a wonderful winery tour that brought us into the Clare Valley and allowed us time to explore the winery and its wines.

Taylor's winery in Clare Valley


Shortly after the Barossa Valley joined the Clare Valley we arrived at Taylor’s Winery.  Adam Eggins cheerfully greeted us and took us on a brief tour of the Winery.  He told us this is the largest family owned winery in the Clare Valley, covering 16,000 acres.  

Taylor's Vineyard and winery


The valley incorporates four main river systems and stretches for 30 to 35 kilometres in width. There are five sub-regions within the valley, and from the North, they are – Clare, Sevenhill, Watervale, Polish Hill River and Auburn. The Taylor family vineyard and winery is one of the first that visitors encounter as they enter the valley from Adelaide. Each sub-region has its own geographic and climate characteristics. Some of the vineyards are quite elevated – the Taylor family vineyard is located 350 metres above sea level – and although the general climate could be described as Mediterranean, each small area is subject to its own micro-climate. Many wines from the Clare Valley exhibit distinct cool climate characteristics and intense varietal fruit flavors. The Taylor family vineyard enjoys warm to hot days and cool evenings during the ripening period and vintage usually takes place around March each year.

Saving water


We found the tour with Adam fascinating.  He showed us how the winery was expanding to provide room for increased production now that Wakefield wines are being shipped to the United States, Britain and elsewhere.  It was amazing to see the variety in the soil that had recently been unearthed for the expanded vineyards.  Slate and sandy dolomite are next to one another.  In some places there were no fossils because the five hundred million year old rocks predate fossils. A small mountain containing 100,000 tons of rock and gravel associated with the expansion and was amusingly named, “Mt. Bill”.

Conditions in this climate are harsh, preventing completely organic procedures to be employed but as sustainable techniques are used as much as possible.  Several feet of mulch are applied to the vines and repeated every five years when the material breaks down.  Dams are plastic lined to retain water and water is recycled.  Five meters below the surface there are four Artesian Rivers.

Bill Taylor's Barrel Hall


The Taylor family was influenced by the excellent Bordeaux wines such as Mouton-Rothschild.  These quality French wines were the inspiration that resulted in the family’s effort to produce wines of comparable quality in Australia.  The winery began with only red wines and expanded to include white. The first range of wines released by the Taylor family was the Estate grown and bottled range. Initially, it consisted only of a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz. The first wine released in Australia, the Cabernet Sauvignon 1973, won Gold medals at every national wine show. A reputation was forged then and continues today with the Estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon winning medals at national and international shows every year since. The range continued to grow over time and now includes Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, White Clare and Gewurztraminer – all sporting the distinctive Wakefield black and gold band. These wines too are regular recipients of medals both nationally and internationally – cementing Wakefield Wines’ reputation as Australia’s most consistently awarded winemakers.

Six thousand barrels of wine


After our tour of the grounds, we entered the “Bill Taylor Barrel Hall”.  Walking into the hall we found ourselves among 6,000 barrels of wine.  As the vineyard expands, this area will need to keep pace.  We walked upstairs to the tasting room and with Adam leading the way, we had the opportunity to enjoy the smells and tastes of the Wakefield wines found in the United States at Wholefoods and local liquor stores.

We sampled several categories of Wakefield wines:

Promised Land with the seahorse logo



Promised Land 2005 Shiraz/Cabernet had the flavors of chocolate, berry, fruit and vanilla and had complex depth and light-medium body.

Promised Land 2005 Riesling had the aroma of lime and the taste of buttered toast with 2% residual sugar.

Promised Land 2007 Unwooded Chardonnay has 0.6% residual sugar with peach, tropical fruit, lime, melon and is fresh and light.

Estate 2007 Chardonnay had a peach, white melon intensity with faint vanilla  and cedar spice, and a fleshy palate.

Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon


Chardonnay and Riesling


Estate 2005 Shiraz had flavors of cedar, tobacco, chocolate, coffee, spice and cinammon, rich and mouthfilling, lush and long.

Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon had a bouquet of classic mint, aniseed, eucalypt and was fresh and lifted.

Estate 2007 Riesling had the aroma of lime talc perfume of citrus and roses with a good mouthfeel, fresh acidity.

St. Andrews 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon had a bouquet like subtle leather and a taste that had a rich great mellow feel.

St. Andrews 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon


At Taylor’s there is an inspired combination of ‘old world’ estate philosophy and ‘new world’ winemaking innovation that has resulted in the crafting of a range of wines that regularly receive international awards and accolades. Wine lovers know they can trust Wakefield to deliver superb quality table wines year after year- the family spare no expense or effort to ensure just that.  Seahorses found on Wakefield labels are the result of the fossilized remains of seahorses that indicated a one time inland sea that were discovered during the excavation of the vineyard dam.   Wakefield wines are 100% under screw cap since August,  2004 because as Adam Eggins explained, “ Wine is 85% water, 14% alcohol and 1% all the rest and we want to keep it all”.

Adam Eggins toasting and tasting


More information is available at: http://www.wakefieldwines.com.au
"Life is a Cabernet" www.lifeisacabernet.com.au
James Caudill                    Brown-Forman
(707) 237-3461 voice  (707) 799-0144 mobile
(707) 528-1561 fax   After Hours (707) 570-2098
[email protected]
http://[email protected]

Photos: Leon Keer and Wakefield Wines

Published on Jun 02, 2011

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