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Tapanappa News, Articles & Reviews
The 2005 Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot has scored a spot in Matthew Jukes coveted top 100 wines of 2008.
93 Points - #1 Rated Wine
The top rated wine in the report, the 2006 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay from Tapanappa comes from Adelaide Hills, the Piccadilly Valley. The Tiers vineyard site was planted by Brian Croser back in 1978 when he founded Petaluma Winery, and so represents some very old ? by Australian standards ? Chardonnay vines, although newer plantings include Dijon clones.
This is a plump, amply textured wine. Scents and flavors of toasted grain with white peaches and hazelnuts. Long and intense on the finish, echoing with toasty oak but also layers of vibrant fruit.
Brian Croser's efforts with Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay have finally paid off in a big way. This is a plump, amply textured wine that doesn?t lack for elegance, marrying scents and flavors of toasted grain with white peaches and hazelnuts. Long and intense on the finish, echoing with toasty oak but also layers of vibrant fruit. Drink now?2015.
IT was pure coincidence that the day before I left Australia for my usual month in Burgundy three missives arrived, two being emails, the third a bottle of pinot noir.
The first email was an offer by Sydney's Ultimo Wine Centre of two new single-vineyard releases by Krug. The first is the 1996 Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, coming from the 1.87ha walled vineyard bought by Krug in 1971 (and replanted with 100 per cent chardonnay). Ultimo had one bottle at a special offer price of $1795 compared with the recommended retail price of $1995.
The second Ultimo offer was two bottles of 1995 Krug Clos d'Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs. It is the inaugural release from a 0.7ha vineyard bought in 1994, realising a long-held dream of making a single-vineyard pinot noir to sit beside Clos du Mesnil. Only 250 cases were made, hardly surprising given the microscopic vineyard, and dwarfed by the 700 dozen-plus bottles and 600 magnums of Clos du Mesnil.
The price of the two bottles was $4995.95 each, reduced to $4495. This for a clos owned for only 12 months by Krug and which had no prior brand existence.
The second email was the second issue of Tappenings, the ever so slightly kitschy name of the Tapanappa newsletter written by Brian Croser. His family is one of three who own Tapanappa, the other two being the Bollinger (Champagne) and Cazes (Bordeaux) families.
My eyes locked on a paragraph on page two. "The problem for Australia in attempting to gatecrash the global fine wine market," Croser writes, "is not that we are being too elitist by identifying our 'distinguished sites', but rather that we are not elitist enough in sending unequivocal signals about the special qualities of our fine-wine regions, and the best sites and wines produced from them." Whatever else, Krug could not be charged with undervaluing its distinguished sites.
This concept of distinguished sites has been pursued by Croser for more than a decade, and Tapanappa is the realisation of that crusade or, more crudely, a case of putting his money where his mouth is, an unequivocally Australian approach.
Tapanappa has three sites, two of which have been producing grapes for some time: the Whalebone Vineyard in Wrattonbully, South Australia, planted in 1974, and the Tiers Vineyard at Piccadilly in the Adelaide Hills, planted in 1979.
These are not old plantings by Australian standards, but the soils have some lineage. The mix of limestone and terra rossa of Whalebone is estimated to be 34million years old, and the Tiers Vineyard has a hefty 1800 million-year-old calc-silicate geology.
Both have produced high-quality wines with an undeniable sense of place: Whalebone a cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and shiraz blend, Tiers a super-refined chardonnay.
When I heard of the third vineyard and the plans to plant pinot noir on it, I remembered the old saying, "You'll never regret saying nothing." I also remembered the one Petaluma Tiers Vineyard pinot noir which, to put it mildly, was disappointing. The site chosen was on part of a Croser-acquired sheep and fat lamb-grazing property on the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, looking out to South Australia's Kangaroo Island.
Foggy Hill Vineyard, as it is called, was planted in 2003 at Parawa, at the highest (350m), wettest and coolest part of the peninsula, on 67million-year-old soil. Three Burgundy clones, 114, 115 and 777, selected by Raymond Bernard, a professor at France's Dijon University, were planted at a very high density of 4440 vines a hectare.
As the nearest vineyard was 10km away and there was no history of pinot noir succeeding in SA outside a few specially favoured sites in the Adelaide Hills, it is small wonder Croser gnawed a few fingernails, even if (on his figures) this was the coolest site on the South Australian mainland.
This week's From the Region suggests nail-biting can cease for the foreseeable future.
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FROM THE REGION: Intro: 2007 Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir
GREAT pinot noir marches to the tune of a drum utterly different from and more difficult than that of any other variety. Having surmounted the imperatives of site, clone, fermentation, type and length of time in oak, sensitivity to bottling and filtering, post-natal care, pondering on the bouquet and finally taking the wine into your mouth, you still have only a partial idea of the quality. It is not until you assess the length of the palate, the character and structure of the finish and the impact of the aftertaste that you can weigh up a new pinot. So it was with the 2007 Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (96 points), with its echoes of high-quality burgundy, generated by the thrust of the back palate, texture of the finish and intensity of the aftertaste. The vintage was a difficult one, and this was the first crop, but it sent shivers down my spine. There are 850 cases at a paltry $45 a bottle.
This continues the strong impression made by the 2004 version of this. This is reserved but big, chocked with dusty, curranty, cedary fruit flavour and then sweet and jubey through the finish. I tasted this six months ago and it was very, very tight - and not much has changed. This is a high quality, long-haul wine. Drink: 2014-2024. 94 points.
Unashamedly fusing Australian fruit and a Bordelaise approach, this has precise distinctive fruit aromas, swanky oak influence, some mint and milk chocolate. The dominant cabernet sauvignon has integrated completely with its minority partners, shiraz and cabernet franc; this has an elegance about it that's very attractive and sits on a modern frame of sturdy fine tannins, finishing with poise and elegance. 94 points.
In 2006 and 2007 I reported on my first tastings of the wines of Tapanappa, the premium Australian label launched in 2002 by Brian Croser, one of the great names of Australian winemaking.
Croser found fame as owner and winemaker at Petaluma, one of Australia's icon estates. In late 2001 Petaluma was taken over by the giant Lion Nathan group. But within a year Croser had launched this new venture with long-time associates Arnould d'Hautefeuille of Champagne Bollinger (center of picture) and Bordeaux's Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages (left of picture).
Importantly, the partners acquired a superb 30-year-old vineyard in the relatively new designated region of Wrattonbully, which is the source of their red wine grapes, and Croser managed to secure access to 50% of the Chardonnay grape crop from the famous Tiers vineyard he had planted for Petaluma in the late 1970s. The Petaluma Tiers Chardonnay built a reputation as one of the southern hemisphere's best, so securing access to this fruit is quite a coup for the new operation.
I interviewed Brian Croser at the launch of his the first Tapanappa, and have been lucky enough to taste every wine so far released. I have to say this latest tasting, where I had the chance to compare the two most recent vintages of the Tiers Chardonnay, Wrattonbully Merlot and Wrattonbully Cabernet Shiraz, was utterly convincing that these wines are some of Australia's best. There is a superb sense of place to each of the wines, and a beautifully realised marriage between the ripeness and concentration that Australia can provide, and the finesse and restraint that great terroir allied to sensitive winemaking can achieve. Though not cheap at around £30 per bottle, I can give all of these wines my unhesitating recommendation. Tapanappa is a very class act.
See wine-searcher.com for a full list of stockists of Tapanappa wines.
Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2006
The Tiers vineyard was planted in Piccadilly by Brian Croser in 1979. This 2006 vintage was decimated by frosts and led to a very small crop - and only 150 cases of this wine. It has a gorgeous nose, though it is the beautiful crème brûlée oak quality that is driving it in its youth, with toast, gentle citrus and a hint of minerality just behind. The palate too is very youthful, and experience of tasting previous vintages of this wine suggests a slightly angular edge to the oak will evolve and integrate beautifully. Already there's a lovely sense of mealy richness and mouth-watering, savoury orange fruit lies beneath the toast and spice. 91/100. £30.00.
Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2005
The 2005 vintage (450 cases produced) has a beautifully expressive, ripe nose and is much more Burgundian in style than the 2006 at time of tasting, with a touch of buttered cabbage, and a lovely cashew nut quality to the oak. Fruit is dry and savoury, with a lovely sense of richness and lemony fruit. The palate has a really refined character, with the oak and acid balance giving structure and suggesting this has not yet reached optimum drinking, but right now it is medium-bodied and full of finesse. It has a gorgeous combination of oatmeally, honeyed richness, pure, crisp fruit, and a spine of fresh, mineral acidity and structural oak. 92/100. £30.00.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2005
The Cab Shiraz is available in slightly higher volumes, with around 1400 cases produced. As well as 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Shiraz, there is a further 10% of Cabernet Franc completing the blend of this 2005 vintage of Tapanappa's red blend. The wine spent 20 months in French oak, around 70% of the barrels being new. It has a gloriously rich and intense nose, with liquorice and anise notes melding with thick, ripe blackcurrant fruit. There's a touch of white pepper and some meaty nuances, as well as a deal of creamy oak in the background. On the palate this wine is powerful and concentrated, with a huge core of sweet, silky black fruits powering through the mid-palate. But at the same time it has a dark, brooding, quite muscular presence with supple but grippy tannins and a nicely chewy, savoury dustiness. Long and pure, this is a baby that will surely cellar for 10 years plus. 93/100. £30.00.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2004
The 2004 vintage of this wine has a touch more Cabernet and less Shiraz than the 2005, with the same 10% Cabernet Franc component. It was matured for 20 months in all new French oak. The nose has a lovely blue/black dusty fruit quality, with plenty of black berries and spice, hinting at nutmeg and clove. There is a sense of chocolaty depth, but this is perhaps slightly more savoury and lean than the 2005 at this stage. The palate bursts into juicy, expressive life, with very refined, tight black fruit and again that dusty character of blueberry and damson skins. The fruit is ripe and sweet, but there is a little spine of liquorice from tight, incisive tannins and juicy acidity. This has lovely purity and persistence, finishing with a long, balanced sense of elegance and power. 92/100. £30.00.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot 2005
The colour of the wine (of which only 200 cases were produced) is a deep, dense garnet, and the nose is just as dense and impenetrable at this stage, the solid, liquorice and black plum quality of the fruit emerging slowly from a cloak of muscular, deep-set oak and spice, with a little hint of mint and chocolate just peaking through. On the palate this wine is just as deep, savoury and serious: it is a very profound take on Merlot, with a glimpse of sweet, ripe, mulberry and juicy plum fruit underpinned by plenty of structural tannin and acidity, and a plum-skin grippy character. Dark and delicious stuff, there is no hurry to drink this. 92/100. £30.00.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot 2004
The 2004 vintage of Tapanappa's Merlot was limited to just 150 cases, and comes from a cool vintage where the grapes were harvested a week later than normal. The nose has very full fruit, with red plums and a touch of sweet Italian tomato, the oak is adding some cedary charryness, along with clove and espresso coffee. Onto the palate this has some real structure, with a rich, ripe, mouth-filling plum and blackcurrant fruitiness, before spicy, ripe tannins and good acidity add some edge to the creamy opulence of the wine. This is delicious Merlot, slightly more forward and sweet than the 2005, though perhaps lacking a little of the 2005's structure. 91/100. £30.00.
Notably sweet, smooth texture. Just the merest hint of coffee and spice (perhaps because of the Vosges oak used? ? new and old). Good acidity but texture is really is its strong suit, from vines planted in 1979. Some creamy white peach flavours but by no means simple!