I have a small number of Tapanappa wines in my cellar, but never tasted the full range until last night. I cannot think of another small Australian winery which produces four different wines at such an outstanding level. I much prefer these wines to Brian Croser’s old Petaluma range. Every wine I tried I would rate in the 95/96 point range.
The 2008 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is brilliant. Made in the style of a leading Montrachet, it undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation. Despite this, there is enough acidity to balance the ripe lemon and creamy flavours. The wine is matured in 50% new oak, and it shows, but it is not overwhelming. Not many Chardonnay vines in Australia benefit from the full French treatment, but this wine is outstanding and justifies its hefty price tag.
I also liked the 2009 Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir. It is a very savoury wine, tasting of spiced raspberry, with fine grained tannins leading to a long and well balanced finish.
The Petaluma Merlot was one of the serious Merlots in Australia. It comes from the same vineyard 20km north of Coonawarra as the Tapanappa Merlot does. We tasted two vintages, the 2003 Tapanappa Merlot and the 2006 Tapanappa Merlot. These were two very impressive wines. The 2003 has a very moorish flavour, with eucalypt and muscat spices prominent. The wine has depth, good acidity and structure. It is miles apart from some of the fruit driven examples in Australia. The 2006 is fresher, as you would expect, a bit more fruit dominant, but with a similar structure and a long life ahead. I would rate the 03 96 points and the 06 95 points.
The two Cabernet/Shiraz offers were from 2004 and 2006. Interesting that Brian Croser chooses to blend the Cabernet with Shiraz rather than Merlot, given his French orientation. The 2004 Tapanappa Cabernet/Shiraz has dark fruit concentration and depth, but is not heavy. The flesh of the Shiraz is well integrated into the Cabernet structure. The wine is very smooth with fine and lengthy tannins. The 2006 Cabernet/Shiraz is similar in style, but not as concentrated. 2004 again proves to be an outstanding vintage.
The Tapanappa wines are very impressive. There is a clear ‘Croser’ style here, with European influences as far as the structure is concerned, but typical Australian fruit flavours. All the wines are single vineyard, and the careful choice of vineyard location allows good wine to be made most years. I highly recommend these wines.