2008 began as a warmer than average growing season until January and February which were cooler than average. Then there was the withering heat wave at the beginning of March which produced 15 straight days over 30°C, 8 of which reached or just exceeded 35°C. The Piccadilly Valley vineyards were not damaged by the heat wave as occurred elsewhere in South Australia where the temperature exceeded 40°C for most of the 15 days. However, the hot spell did advance grape maturity and Tiers Chardonnay was harvested 2 weeks earlier than normal on the 17th of March, at the end of the heat wave. 2008 was a warm harvest in the Piccadilly Valley, accruing 1227°C days of heat during the growing season versus the average of 1177°C days.
The 2008 harvest of Tiers Chardonnay yielded the moderate crop level of 7 tonnes/hectare without fruit thinning. 2008 was one of the driest harvests on record only recording 35 mms for the 6 month growing season until harvest in March. The hand-harvested fruit was delivered in perfect condition to the winery, which is situated at the foot of the Tiers Vineyard.
Immediately on arrival at the winery, the Tiers Chardonnay fruit was de-stemmed, crushed and chilled to 3°C on the way to the air bag press. Cold juice was gravitated away from the skins through the press and only light pressings were added back. A small amount of SO2 was added to the juice on the way to the tank where the juice was allowed to settle for 4 days. SO2 was the only addition to the juice prior to fermentation.
The clear juice was racked to new (50%) and 1 use (50%) oak barriques from the French forest of Vosges. A selected yeast strain, native to the vineyard, was added to initiate fermentation and the bacteria for the malo-lactic fermentation was added at the same time.
The primary fermentation was complete in 6 weeks after which the yeast lees were stirred in the barriques weekly until the malo-lactic fermentation was complete 2 months later. At the finish of malo-lactic fermentation the wine was racked from barrique, SO2 was added and the wine was put back to barrique to sit on lees for a further 6 months.
After a total of 10 months in barrique, the 2008 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay was racked clear and prepared for bottling. The wine was bottled without filtration in March 2009. The in-bottle analysis of 2008 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is: Alcohol 13.9%, pH 3.11, total acid 7.46 gpl as tartaric, SO2 135 ppm, volatile acid 0.50 gpl.
The Taste of the Wine
Tapanappa’s 2008 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is a very typical wine of the Tiers Vineyard in a warm vintage. The varietal aromas are ripe peach and melon. Subtle marzipan and brioche aromas and flavours are contributed by the malo-lactic, yeast lees contact and oak.
A consistent terroir feature of Tiers Chardonnay is its very significant texture followed by a savoury finish and the persistence of the flavours. The Tapanappa 2008 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay will develop spicy honey and brulee characters with bottle age of up to 10 years.