2017 Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc

Author: Andrew Graham
Source: Oz Wine Review
Review Date: Jun 2021

Brian Croser’s vision of a great Right Bank Bordeaux, realised. Or at least that’s the drift with this Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2017. Sometimes this Wrattonbully red can seem too ripe and too ambitious, but it feels rather right with this ’17 iteration. Sadly the Cab Shiraz I tasted alongside it was corked, and I’m having a bad run of TCA in top end Aus reds lately. ’16 Octavius days later corked too. Just put them all in screwcap, please.

Anyway, this Whalebone spends 20 months in 69% new oak. 65% Merlot, 35% Franc. Coffeed and oak-laden wine it is too, with the enveloping, slightly bitter but sweet chocolate and vanilla bean palate the mark of expensive wood. It’s plush though. A long, lavish flow of dark, chocolate cake flavour. None of the drying tannins or alcohol warmth of some recent vintages either. Just a mass of richness, a wave of molten dark fruit, rich oak and ripe tannins. It’s pretty silken really, even if it’s a singular wine. It chugs on and on. Plenty to admire with this lavish beast, and it will live forever.

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2017. Best drinking: likely better in two or three years time. Then it will go for decades. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%, $90. 

Would I buy it? I don’t know if I’d buy a bottle. A glass maybe. I’d gladly have in my cellar though.

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