How We Crafted One of The World’s Finest Shiraz
Fri, 14 August 2015
The Pioneer Shiraz Exceptional Parcel Release represents a bold step in the Taylor family’s journey to craft distinctive wines that rival the world’s best. The Pioneer Shiraz 2012 showcases the way in which a superior wine can be produced through a very delicate balance of meticulous attention and care, expert skill and know-how, and supreme craftsmanship.
It all started in the vineyard
Relatively early in the 2012 vintage a series of exceptional vineyard blocks were earmarked by Adam Eggins, Taylors’ Chief Winemaker, and the Taylors viticultural team for their clear promise of delivering truly exceptional fruit of the highest quality. The selected vineyard blocks in 2012 cover a range of micro-climates and elevations within the St Andrews vineyard, the Auburn estate and southern Clare Valley.
Harvest and cold-soaking
Creating this superlative wine required harvesting the fruit at the exact right moment, to capture optimal flavours, acidity and structural development. The fruit was harvested over a period of two weeks from the end of February to early March, after which each parcel was de-stemmed and initially cold-soaked for four days.
Fermentation, barrelling and maturation
A portion of each parcel was then transferred to headless American oak barrels and fermented for between seven and ten days at 22-28°C, using RX60 yeast – a strain used for its capacity to facilitate aroma enhancement in Syrah / Shiraz fruit.
Following fermentation, Taylors deviated from the usual Shiraz practice of pressing the wine off the skins before barrelling, instead deciding to store the wine on skins for six weeks in the oak barrels. This extension of skin contact with the surface area of the barrel was done in order to enhance palate complexity and length, enabling the wine to develop extra richness and multiple layers of complex flavours from the skin and seeds.
The use of American oak for Shiraz impacts on the wine’s properties in a number of ways. Shiraz is typically a rich and concentrated variety, and American oak helps to build the palate with additional spice and cedar characters.
The tight-grained American oak used by Taylors respects the fruit in a similar way as French oak, but adds extra power and weight. This respect for the fruit combined with the extra impact of the oak tie together to create what could be described as a marriage made in perfect harmony.
Following this process, the grapes were then pressed off the skins and malolactic fermentation was carried out. Each of the parcels was matured in a selection of oak barrels and individually racked after six months before being returned to their respective barrels for a further ten months. After this, a painstaking barrel selection took place for each of the individual components, prior to the final stage of bottling.
The results are in, and they are good!
The accolades for this exceptional wine have been rolling in. Matthew Jukes has named the wine in his ‘100 Australian Best Wines’ describing The Pioneer as “trapping layered elegance” and providing “an insane depth of chewy fruit and an impressive retinue of tannins which never seem too sour or over-extracted.”
Other wine writers have also released glowing reviews for The Pioneer. Robert Whitley, from Wine Review Online, is equally impressed, writing: “Australia has its share of impressive wines and I would submit Taylors The Pioneer Shiraz is positioned to take its place alongside the likes of Grange and other better-known powerhouse reds from Down Under.”
Tasting notes and presentation
The wine’s palate is complex and layered, beginning with juicy deep berry compote fruits, yielding to firm tannins and alluring oak, coconut and dark chocolate characters, and a lingering finish. Colour is mid purple-crimson with deep black cherry hues.
Each bottle of The Pioneer Shiraz is hand-labelled and individually numbered, and packaged in a beautiful luxury gift box. Each bottle also comes with a hand-sewn booklet containing details of the wine, including the history, vintage conditions, vinification and maturation.
The multi-dimensional structure of The Pioneer is truly something. For more information click here.