The 2004/2005 growing season was normal and moderate until the first two weekends in April when successive un-seasonal heatwaves arrived. In 2004/2005, the heat summation for Whalebone Vineyard for the 7-month growing season was 1340°C days. In nearby Coonawarra, the 2007 heat summation was 1455°C days – only pushed above the long- term average of 1376°C days by the very hot April events.
The low temperature summation of the Whalebone Vineyard and the still air ripening conditions particularly suit the fastidious Merlot variety and provides one of the truly “distinguished sites” for this variety. In 2005 the Merlot at Whalebone Vineyard was harvested on the 7th of April before the first of the un-seasonal early April heat waves.
The sugar level at harvest was 25.6 Brix, the pH was 3.49 and the acid 6.2gpl as tartaric acid.
The Merlot grapes from the Whalebone Vineyard were hand harvested. They were de- stemmed, partially roller crushed and the must was chilled to 3°C into 1 tonne fermentation tubs.
A 3-day cold maceration preceded the beginning of fermentation with selected native yeasts, followed by twice daily hand plunging to break up the cap of skins. At the peak of fermentation, the temperature of the fermenting juice reached 35°C before exhausting all sugar after 14 days. The fermented wine and skins were sealed down for a further week of post fermentation maceration before draining and pressing directly to French oak barriques (70% new and 30% 1 use).
After malo-lactic fermentation in barrique, the wine was racked and sulphured followed by a racking each 6 months until after a total of 4 rackings and 20 months in barrique the wine was clear.
The Whalebone Vineyard 2005 Merlot was given a light egg white fining before being bottled without filtration in March of 2007.
The in bottle analysis of the Whalebone Vineyard 2005 Merlot is:
The Taste of the Wine
The Whalebone Vineyard terroir exerts its strength across all four of the varieties grown there, and the Merlot develops the smoky Eucalyptus, anise and fresh earth aromas and flavours that are the signature of this distinguished site.
The Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard 2005 Merlot has the ripe plum and exotic spice of Merlot from the warm 2005 vintage. The very sweet fruit middle palate is matched by a significant bulk of tannin providing a fine grained and savoury finish.
This is a rich and ripe wine, which will best accompany dishes based on braised ox cheeks or slow cooked veal shanks.