The 2008 vintage at Tapanappa’s Whalebone Vineyard in Wrattonbully was just warmer than average with a heat accumulation for the growing season of 1469°C days versus the average of 1435°C days.
Like 2007, the season began with a devastating frost in October, which reduced crop levels to less than half of normal.
Following the frost the season was mild, warm and dry until February which was significantly cooler than average. Then a 15-day heat event at the beginning of March combined with the low crop levels to catapult the meagre crop into sugar ripeness by mid month. We then waited until March the 27th and 28th to harvest flavour and tannin ripe grapes.
The Whalebone Merlot and Cabernet Franc yielded less than 2 tonnes/hectare and were combined for fermentation with a harvest analysis of 25 Brix, pH 3.6 and an acid of 6.5 gpl. The blend of 2008 Tapanappa Merlot-Cabernet Franc is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc.
The precious hand harvested grapes were delivered to the winery in Piccadilly where they were destemmed, partially crushed and chilled to 5°C on the way to 0.8 tonne fermentation tubs.
After a cold maceration of 4 days the fermentation started with daily hand plunging of the cap of skins. At fermentation peak with a temperature of 32°C, plunging was increased to twice a day.
The fermentation finished after 9 days and the tubs were sealed down under inert gas for a further 7-day post fermentation maceration on skins.
The young wine was drained and pressed out of tubs and gravitated immediately to Nevers and Alliers barriques (30% new) on full lees.
Malo-lactic fermentation finished in barrique by the spring and the wines were racked from lees, a small dose of SO2 was added before being returned to barrique for a total of 20 months in oak.
After two rackings the clear wine was bottled without filtration in March 2010.
The in-bottle analysis of Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard 2008 Merlot Cabernet Franc is:
The 2008 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc is the product of a warm and ripe vintage.
The aromas are a blend of the Christmas cake mixed dried fruit of the Merlot and the perfumed violets and spice of the Cabernet Franc overlying the terroir imprint of the Whalebone Vineyard of smoky Eucalypt and fresh earth.
The flavours are ripe and sumptuous with a massive core of sweet fruit of Merlot and its big tannin imprint, moderated by the silky texture, spicy flavours and fine-grained tannin impression of the Cabernet Franc.
This is a wine for hearty winter dishes of braised and slow cooked meats and roasted vegetables.
2008 Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc has the fruit density and freshness and the tannin structure to improve with at least a couple of decades in bottle.