Talijancich Wines wins champion wine of show
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have picked the grapes,” said James Talijancich (pictured), as he accepted the award for the champion wine of the Swan Valley Wine Show. He thought he’d missed the opportunity to pick the pedro ximenez grapes from the Roe family’s 115-year-old vineyard. “The bunches were so dry they would fall off if you brushed against them. The vines had lost their leaves. I made an error of judgment. I apologized to the Roe family, because we pay growers for grapes by weight (and these grapes were so dry they had little weight). But John Roe said ‘No, go on and pick it’.”
The wine that resulted now sells for $250 per 350ml bottle, and is described by its maker as “Our greatest vintage liqueur ever made over our 80-year history. Truly world class.”
I was one of the judges who gave it a trophy for the best wine in a stunning class of white-grape fortified wines, and eventually, the trophy for best wine of show.
James also describes it thus, and I can only agree: “Luscious, concentrated and complex beyond description. Totally raisined fruit, crushed and minced to create a once in a lifetime vintage.”
As he told the crowd of 235 at the awards dinner last Friday in a halting, emotion-filled voice, he picked the grapes at about 35 degrees Baumé (extremely sweet and raisined), and minced them to liberate the sugars – a technique which was pioneered by the famous Jack Mann decades ago, and is still used in the Swan Valley. “It broke the new Italian crusher-destemmer, so we brought out the old one, then basket pressed it. The final wine is 27 degrees Baumé.”
The must was too sweet to ferment, and resembles more than anything a Spanish PX – which is basically fortified grape-juice, wood-aged. It tastes much older than 2007, probably because it is so complex.
I scored in 19/20 as one of the two best wines in a class of 16 wines which were awarded 12 medals – five golds, two silvers and five bronzes. My tasting notes read: “Very dark green-ish black colour; very concentrated, aged, oxidative bouquet of cold-tea, toffee, raisins, malt and maple syrup. Stunning richness and concentration; immense depth and power.”
The wine’s full name is Talijancich 2007 Pedro Ximenez Liqueur. The Talijancich family have been buying these grapes for 55 years, and James’s father Peter spent time pruning the vines as a 14-year-old. The vineyard was planted in 1900.
The Talijancich winery (tastings) was established in 1932 and specializes in fortified wines. James’s father was inspired to make fortifieds by the legendary Jack Mann when he was chief winemaker at Houghton (tastings). It is quite extraordinary, indeed generous, that a boutique winery would enter such a valuable and rare wine in a competition at all.
The other wines to win gold medals in this class were John Kosovich Wines Rare Muscat (previous tasting), Faber Vineyard Liqueur Muscat (previous tasting), Talijancich Julian James White Liqueur, and John Kosovich Wines Liqueur Verdelho – all non-vintage wines; all great.
Go to www.taliwine.com.au.