15/08/2006 - 22:00

Talijancich leaves nothing in reserve

15/08/2006 - 22:00

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Talijancich Wines has become one of those iconic producers that define a region; a producer recognised for encapsulating all the very best attributes of a particular area while also raising the profile of surrounding wineries.

Talijancich leaves nothing in reserve

Talijancich Wines has become one of those iconic producers that define a region; a producer recognised for encapsulating all the very best attributes of a particular area while also raising the profile of surrounding wineries.

James Talijancich now heads the winery his family started almost 75 years ago. A third generation winemaker at the Swan Valley property, Mr Talijancich also marks his 25th year of winemaking next year.

It was evident early on that Mr Talijancich had inherited his father’s and grandfather’s passion and talent for fortified wine making.

But what also developed was an emerging passion for other styles of wines. Over time, verdelho, semillon, grenache and shiraz, and later more interesting varieties such as tempranillo and graciano, have emerged from the Talijancich cellars.

But it was the Talijancich family’s faith in verdelho that is most interesting and inspiring. At a time when the variety was even less trendy than it is now, Mr Talijancich foresaw that it could have a great future in the valley.

“For us, verdelho started in 1984,” Mr Talijancich told Gusto. “And right from that first vintage I could see that it was different; it had potential.”

Back then, the amount of verdelho Talijancich made was fairly small, no more than 200 cases or so. The wine was vibrant and youthful with a distinct fruit characteristic all of its own.

The wine was bottled and sold as current release stock, but a portion was kept aside and stored. This wine would later be released as the Talijancich reserve verdelho and become one of, if not the, finest wine of its type in the country.

Its important to know that, at the time, almost no-one was deliberately holding back verdelho to release as an aged wine. It was at a time before the ‘anything but chardonnay’ period had set in, with chardonnay often the only white grape growers were prepared to plant.

Most people think verdelho cannot age and must be drunk young. Even the renowned James Halliday held that view – until he visited the Swan Valley earlier this year.

“After he tried the wines he apologised for what he said,” Mr Talijancich says.

Talijancich’s wine was kept for seven or eight years and then released through cellar door sales and wine club contacts. It was an amazing success. Those who knew of it, usually from Talijan-cich’s annual verdelho tasting, waited eagerly for its release.

The verdelho also became one of the winery’s most critically acclaimed wines. Talijancich’s 1998 Verdelho Reserve won five trophies at the 2005 Swan Valley Wine Show and in no small part helped the company secure the ‘most successful small winery in Western Australia’ award at the 2003 Mt Barker Wine Show.

This year, however, marks the end for this remarkable wine. The 1997 reserve verdelho, which has just been released, will be the last reserve made – at least for a while.

“It’s just that our current release has become so popular,” Mr Talijancich says of his difficult decision to cease production of the reserve label.

“I don’t have access to any more fruit. I would love to have another 10 acres of verdelho, but I don’t.”

So for now the 1997 will be the last in what is truly a remarkable WA wine legacy.

“If someone had said to me 30 years ago that I would still be here I would have laughed,” Mr Talijancich says. “This wine is a big part of that journey – it is very special to me.”

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