|A kangaroo checks out the Wakefield Clare Valley Vineyard. Credit: Wakefield Wines|
Earlier this year, I reviewed some new releases from Southern Australia's Wakefield. Well, I’m back to Wakefield again, and this reports includes some really solid buys from the mid-shelf offerings. If you’ve turned away from Australian wines generally, it might be worth turning to Wakefield wines specifically. These wines in this report are moderately priced and highly delicious, showing a stylistic trend toward brighter acidity and fresher fruit.
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.
The Clare Valley wines all come from the Taylor family estate, where vineyards at more than 1,100 feet above sea level vineyards get plenty of sun but receive the benefit if large diurnal temperature swings. 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.
And for those looking to splurge, Wakefield has some stunning high-end reds, the Pioneer Shiraz and Visionary Cabernet. I reviewed these wines in November 2015. Spoiler: they are amazing.
2015 Wakefield Pinot Gris - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
Pale lemon color. A brisk and salty appeal on the nose with floral perfume, orange peel, guava and melon — a lovely sniffer! On the palate, this is crisp and suave with bright acidity and vibrant minerality. Floral, herbal, seashell and flint notes accent the lemon, orange and guava fruit. Begs for oysters or a picnic lunch in a sunny field. Impressive stuff! (89 points)
2015 Wakefield Chardonnay Jaraman Clare Valley/Adelaide Hills - Australia, South Australia
Light gold color. Aromas of green and yellow apple, almond, honeysuckle, white tea and notes of seashells. Plump and juicy on the palate but this sports surprising acidity and a fresh sense of minerals to contrast the honey and nougat richness from the French oak. Peach, baked apple and a spritz of lime mix well together in this well-balanced, vivacious Chardonnay. 51% of the fruit comes from Clare Valley, 49% from Adelaide Hills. (88 points)
2015 Wakefield Riesling Saint Andrews - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
Pale straw color. Gobs of white peach, papaya and fresh squeezed limes on the nose, and some chalk, mineral and floral perfume. Precise on the palate, packed with a stony mineral presence, but a waxy texture and lively fruit give the wine serious depth. Papaya, kiwi, peaches, lime juice, pretty fruit topped with river rocks, chalk, minerals and quinine. Lots going on here, but this will surely improve in the cellar. A gorgeous Clare Valley Riesling. (91 points)
2015 Wakefield Merlot - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
Juicy light purple color. The aromas are strong and ripe, but there’s nuance in the plum and black cherry fruit, and I get some menthol, earth and sweet violet notes. A fleshy but tart wine on the palate with refreshing acidity, medium-light tannins, and a bright mix of red and black cherry fruit – notes of dark roast coffee, violets, charcoal and eucalyptus. A bright and lively Merlot that tastes great now but could probably improve for a few years. (87 points)
2015 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of cedar shavings, eucalyptus and black pepper accent the juicy red and black currant fruit. The palate shows fine-grained tannins and moderate acidity, framing this medium-plus bodied wine in a fresh package. Juicy red and black currants and plums mix off of loamy soil, eucalyptus, mint and espresso. Plenty of fruit but this has lots of freshness that make it easy and pleasant to sip, but enough to unpack for a few years in the cellar. Aged a year in 10% new French oak. (87+ points)
2015 Wakefield Shiraz - Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
Deep purple color. A dark core of plum and blackberry fruit on the nose along with violets, loam and black pepper glaze. Silky and juicy presence on the palate with medium acidity and medium-soft tannins. Deep, dark black cherry and plum fruit but it maintains a tart edge. Notes of roasted chestnut, wet earth and pepper add some complexity. Fun, tasty stuff for near-term drinking. I like the more vibrant and less roasted appeal. (86 points)