Few wineries have been to the brink and back like Evans and Tate have.
Their story starts just over forty years ago when, in 1974, two mates John Evans and John Tate, and their wives Jan and Toni, find the perfect site to build their dream vineyard on the banks of the Wilyabrup River in the Margaret River region of WA. In 1975 they planted out their first vineyard, naming it Redbrook, and set about creating some of the bestselling wines that WA has to offer, in fact thirty years on from its release the Evans and Tate Classic Dry White (a Sem Sauv Blanc blend) is still the highest selling Margaret River wine. In the years that follow the company managed to create a number of key brands that still remain part of their business now. In ’83 the partnership between Tate and Evans winds up, with John Tate and his wife Toni taking over the winery, and the company continued to grow, eventually taking over other wineries such as Selwyn Wines, Oakridge Vineyards and Cranswick Premium Wines.
In 2001 winemaker Matt Byrne joined the team and has played a pivotal role the development and quality across Evans & Tate’s range, and picking up the odd award here and there whilst doing it.
In 2005, for a series of reasons, none of which had anything to do with the sales or quality of their wines, insolvency specialists were called in after the winery went from being a world-wide known winery producing big volume, great “bang for buck” wines, to being a publicly listed shell company that owed creditors almost $50 million. In 2007 one of the great Australian family owned wineries, McWilliam’s, stepped in and bought the embattled Evans and Tate.
It’s a credit to Byrne’s skills and drive that the quality of the Evans and Tate wines didn’t suffer during any of the turmoil, in fact quite the opposite, they took a few more awards during the time to add to their groaning trophy cabinet.
With the purchase by McWilliam’s comes a distribution network, and their 140 years of history, knowing when to add to a range and where to play with a wine, even going as far as changing the blend completely from being a Cabernet dominate blend to Shiraz dominate, for example.
A recent-ish addition to the Evans and Tate line up is their “Breathing Space” and “Time and Place” range, available only at independent retailers or online, and sitting at around $16 and $9 respectively. Both wines are made to a price, but the sheer quality of the fruit and the wine belies the price point.
These aren’t wines that will win awards, but they aren’t made in that style. They have been made to be utterly enjoyable wines at prices points that will make you cheer, wines that you enjoy drinking, and that make you want to go back and try again and again.
A few of the range:
Evans and Tate Time and Place Dry Red 2015 – a cab, merlot and shiraz blend that’s unbelievably good value for less than $10. It’s a terrific mid-week pizza wine or bbq wine. Dusty notes with blackcurrant and mulberry to the fore, cedar and tobacco notes. On the tongue its super easy to drink, not complex or challenging, the tannins soft and silky, nice dry finish that will pair well with food.
Evans and Tate Breathing Space Pinot Gris 2016 – tried on an arvo when the mercury was soaring, and it worked so well. Often a lot of whites can get overwhelmed in the FNQ summer heat, this held on due to the fresh fruit aromas that leapt from the glass, and the purity of fruit that we found on the tongue. Combined with just enough complexity from some of the pressings being added back to the final wine, it made a pretty impressive wine on the day.
Evans and Tate Breathing Space Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – Margaret River does great cabernet, wines that give every other place on earth a run for their money at every price point. Even though this has been made to a cheap price point, it doesn’t taste like a cheap wine, I’d drink this any day of the week, and happily serve it a dinner party. Blackberry, black olive tapenade and dark chocolate, the fruit is well balanced by the tannins. High quality Margaret River cabernet at this price doesn’t come along every day, buy lots!
Evans and Tate Time and Palace Dry White 2016 – Evans and Tate do the white blend so well, this another good example of what can be achieved by a talented winemaker. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauv Blanc and Semillon, with each variety delivering key parts of the wine. Refreshing, crisp passionfruit notes with green apple and light citrus and the lightest of mineral notes. It all works to create a white that’s made for quaffing.