Oliver's Taranga is one of those wineries whose long lineage in the wine industry dates back to a deep history of grape-growing (since 1841), yet more recently (since 1994), winemaking has become their forte. Present day winemaker Corinna Rayment picks the best selections from over 100 ha of estate owned vineyards for release under the Oliver's Taranaga label, and for my tastes, she's made some pretty smart selections over the last few years, especially when it comes to reds.
Oliver's Taranga started out, like many in McLaren Vale, as shiraz specialists, but as the years have passed they've seen a growing number of new varietals included in both their vineyards and the finished bottle, allowing them to pick and choose grape varieties for the Oliver's Taranga label as season's see fit. Today, Oliver's Taranga's range includes varieties such as fiano, viognier and tempranillo, which are soon to be joined by a sagrantino and even a moscato (cellar door special?). The company's flagship remains the smartly oaked yet well fruited HJ Reserve Shiraz, which, as any of their employees will be willing to share, can share vineyard sourcings with that of Penfolds Grange (I'm told Penfolds will be using fruit from Oliver's Taranga for the 2010 Grange).
Before I go any further I want to make mention of what makes any visit to Oliver's Taranga cellar door special; customer service. I usually visit Oliver's Taranga's cellar door once or twice a year and every time I go the service is top notch. All the cellar door hands I've become familiar with (Briony, Trudy and now Sally) present their wines with utmost consideration and respect for the visitor, whilst showing not a shred of wine-'snobberishness'. A good old fashioned chat and a laugh over a tipple of wine is always the order of the day at Oliver's Taranga, none of this; 'I'm pouring the wine, now when are you gonna leave?' sort of rubbish. Clearly, all of Oliver's Taranga's cellar door staff feel part of their extended family and they're only too keen to let strangers into that circle as well. For quiet, weekday cellar door experiences Oliver's Taranga is pretty close to a 10 out of 10 every time, regardless of what you think of the wine. Make sure you drop by next time you're in the Vale, you won't regret it.
If anyone's interested, Oliver's Taranga is also looking for a weekend chef to run their kitchen on saturday and sundays for light lunches. A focus on regional produce is essential.
Oliver's Taranga tasting notes posted below
Oliver's Taranga Fiano 2010 ($24) Oliver's Tarnaga also sell fruit to Coriole for their fiano. The third fiano I've had from this label and by far the most interesting. It's quite a lean, dry style, with lemon citrus notes marked by apricot kernel undertones and a pleasing hint of light spice apparent. There's a also a good thrust of driving acidity, making the whole experience seem quite distinctive. 90
Oliver's Taranga Viognier 2008 ($18) Classic peach fuzz, apricot and lemon nose precedes a mouthfeel with quite a luscious, oily feel, yet just restrained varietal fruit flavour. For $18 it's not bad, just adding to the region's potential with the white Rhone variety. 88
Oliver's Taranga Tempranillo 2009 ($32) Oliver's Taranga believe this is their best tempranillo yet and I'd have to agree. It reveals that classically varietal exotic spice fragrance, with savoury yet ripe undertones of dark berry/plum fruits harmonised by smooth vanilla/chocolate oak. On the palate its surprisingly elegant and medium-bodied (for both region and style) with a fine, long drive of sweet, earthy flavours framed by svelte, prickly temp tannins and beautifully restrained alcohol (13.0%). It's very well composed. (full review soon) 91
Oliver's Taranga Cadenzia Grenache 2008 ($30) I'm a bit unsure what happened here because I've been following Taranga as one of McLaren Vale's better makers of grenache lately. On the nose it's decidedly sweet for the region, with a boiled lolly-like expression of ripe, jammy and confectionery raspberry/blueberry fruits which transfers over onto the palate. The fruit sweetness only becomes more pronounced as it drives down the palate, displaying none of the savoury, earthy or spicy characters which lovers of the McLaren Vale style have come to expect. A shame, because the 2006 (93pts) was excellent. 86
Oliver's Taranga Corrina's Blend Cabernet Shiraz 2006 ($30) This wine's been around for a while now and it's still holding up quite okay, despite losing some of the fruit freshness and structure I recall tasting it previously. Now, it's chocolate/vanilla oak sits quite firmly on top of its fruit, which resides in the ripe McLaren Vale-cabernet currant fruit spectrum, with some shiraz derived nuances of dark plums and berries happily residing beneath. It's palate is very smooth, rich, ripe and chocolatey, reflecting its region well in an already approachable style. 90
Oliver's Taranga Shiraz 2007 ($29) Initially shows its vintage with a ripe, meaty and dark fruited nose, but it's also surprisingly composed and withdrawn. Its palate is quite rustic and deeply flavoured, but there's an underswell of over-ripe fruit flavour which becomes more pronounced as the wine drives, leaving an impression of dark plum/berry tart flavour to linger underneath some fine tannins. 89
Oliver's Taranga HJ Reserve Shiraz 2006 ($50) Straight away shows some classy, snazzy oak; scented with nutty, mocha and walnut tones overlying a beautifully composed, regional and seasonal expression of savoury berry and plum aromas with a touch of cinnamon spice. The palate also reveals some overlying nutty/mocha oak characters, but underneath that lies some pretty smart fruit. It's all quite tightly wound, elegant and measured at the moment, but it should open up with layers of flavour and texture with medium-long term cellaring. (full review soon) 94
Oliver's Taranga The Banished NV ($40) Average age 20 yrs grenache-based fortified. One of my favourites of SA's 'house tawnys', and this bottle was freshly bottled from the barrel. It's lighter, fresh, long and precise, and it reveals layers of flavours which just unwind down the palate with its beautifully fortifying spirit, displaying a wonderful, nutty rancio character and perfectly balanced sweetness. Beautiful; and I don't even mind the slight price increase. 94