Another day, another dogma challenging wine. Here though, the question is not about climate challenging varieties (as it was with yesterday's Domaine A Cabernet), but about regionally challenging blends, featuring two grapes that have been traditionally delegated to mere second string blending components in the Coonawarra/Wrattonbully construct.
In this case, those grapes are Merlot and Cabernet Franc, both of which make up just 1.8 hectares out of the 8 hectares of older plantings on the Whalebone vineyard property, the vines dating back to 1974. Dry grown and producing just 2 tonnes/hectare (0.8 tonnes/acre or 2/3rds the yield of Grand Cru Burgundy) these small, tough vines produce seriously concentrated grapes (and fittingly concentrated wines).
Cellar Door open 7 days a week, 11am - 4pm. Bookings strongly recommended. Give us a call (08) 7324 5301 or email email@example.com
Whalebone Vineyard Latest Reviews
Ripeness, earth spice and oak punch segue to an impossibly medium bodied, elegant palate - has complexity of bay leaf, bergamot tannins and a layered savouriness, but drinkability is the import. Impressive for architecture
Wrattonbully appears to have a genuine future as a Merlot producing region. The addition of 40% Cabernet Franc adds a good deal of interest as well. The Whalebone Vineyard was planted in 1974 and it’s producing some exciting wines already.
Luxurious and bountiful from the warmth of the vintage, there’s plenty of sweet and plush fruit on entry. Blackcurrants and plums, seductive violet florals, eucalypt, drinking chocolate, earth and saline minerality. Peppery and warming with grainy tannin bunching up on the finish. Layers, power and excellent depth. It’s a big-ish wine but one to revel in.
93 Very Good
Brian Croser has captured distinctive vineyard and vintage characters while embracing an almost atypically tight and light structure. Displays elegance and style with a slickness you only get from the very finest. Perfume notes emerge, with the new French oak influence striking. The palate is delicate, yet powerful. A wine of distinction and class.
Brian Croser’s Tapanappa venture has been of interest to me since its inception in 2002 and tasting this makes me very pleased that I have some of the 2004 tucked away in the cellar. 70% Cabernet, 30% Shiraz and a wonderful rendition of the great Australian red it is too, combining the structure and elegance of the Bordeaux grape with the plush essence of its Rhône partner.
You don’t see many Australian red blends with Merlot as the dominant grape in the blend that cost this much, but it takes the chutzpah of a Brian Croser to make a wine like this. It’s from Wrattonbully which is the next surprise, even more surprising is the lottery of the cork closure. Phew that’s three surprises and I’ve not even tasted the wine yet.
The Whalebone Vineyard – great name – in the Wrattonbully region includes 0.8 hectares of cabernet franc and 1 hectare of merlot. These vines were planted in 1974. “After a 30 year struggle the vines have penetrated the deeper limestone layers and are extracting a balance of moisture and nutrient to sustain a meagre crop of 2 tonnes/hectare. The vines have sufficient canopy and root system to fully ripen the harvest relying only on natural rainfall” – according to the press release. The wine spends 30 months in French oak (30 percent new), a portion of this time on full lees. It’s bottled without filtration and then spends two years in bottle prior to release. 300 dozen made.
The traditional Australian red blend, beautifully executed. 70 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent shiraz. All French oak.
Has a bit of a swagger to it, this wine. It’s rich, chocolatey, grainy and substantial. Flavours are mostly in the blackberry/plum area though there’s eucalypt here and well-integrated smoky/spicy oak. Tannin curls out and around the finish. Noticeably dry, almost sinewy, despite its richness. As with the merlot cabernet franc blend, this will age long term.
Grand red with a mint/eucalyptus background - often typical of the Wrattonbully region - pure forest fruits and beautifully managed, cedar, leather, oak-derived layers adding mid-range richness.
Medium red-purple; an elegant, complex wine bringing spice, mint and quality oak aromas and flavours into line with the ripe mulberry/plum fruit of the medium-bodied palate, the tannins soft and balanced.
Rating: 94 points / 5 goblets
Drink by: 2024