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Tapanappa, 2010 tasting

by Tom Cannavan, 03/10

It's hard to believe eight years has passed since Brian Corser launched Tapanappa, his premium label that concentrates on 'terroir wines' from specific vineyards in South Australia. Croser found fame as owner and winemaker at Petaluma, one of Australia's icon estates. In late 2001 Petaluma was taken over by the giant Lion Nathan group and within a year Croser had launched this new venture.

Croser's partners in the business are Arnould d'Hautefeuille of Champagne Bollinger and Bordeaux's Jean-Michel Cazes. Croser retained 50% of the Chardonnay fruit from his famous Tiers vineyard in Piccadilly, and the partners acquired a superb 30-year-old vineyard called 'Whalebone' in the region of Wrattonbully that is the source of most red wine grapes. Most recently, the Foggy Hill vineyard in the Fleurieu region, on the coast close to McLaren Vale, became the source of Pinot Noir for the label.

This tasting ran through some of Tapanappa's wines that are currently on the market. All of these wines are produced in small quantities (just 900 cases of the Pinot for example) and just emphasised for me that Tapanappa continue to produce some of Australia's most impressive wines.

See all Tapanappa stockists on wine-searcher.com.
  

the wines

Tapanappa, Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2008
The Tiers vineyard was planted in Piccadilly by Brian Croser in 1979. This 2008 vintage was was a particularly hot one, but perhaps because the wine was picked early, it has retained a really vibrant edge. The earliest releases where also very heavily - and for me overly - oaked, but despite being one of the world's most experienced winemakers, Croser is clearly able to adapt and the oak on this sits beautifully, restrained and gently cashew-like, allowing the pristine fruit quality to shine. The wine is immensely concentrated and intense, but shimmers with life. Clearly the best Tiers Chardonnay yet, with wonderful balance and a long, long finish. 94/100. £35.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Tapanappa, Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
This is only the second vintage of the Tapanappa Pinot Noir. It has an immediate charm and delicacy, with soft, curranty and gently smoky aromas leading onto a palate that somehow manages both intense fruit sweetness and elegant freshness. There's a dry, savoury, really quite Burgundian undertow to this. It is low-cropped from the Foggy Hill vineyard (densely planted with Burgundian clones) and aged in French oak only 30% of which is new. It has lovely persistance in the mouth, its elegant, quiet layers unfolding slowly into the finish. Subtle and superb stuff. 93/100. Around £23.00, Edencroft Fine Wine, see other stockists on wine-searcher.

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2005
The Cab Shiraz is available in slightly higher volumes, with around 1400 cases produced. As well as 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Shiraz, there is a further 10% of Cabernet Franc completing the blend, all cropped very low at 2.5 tonnes/hectare (around 34hl/ha). The wine spent 20 months in French oak, around 70% of the barrels being new. It has a deep, fragrant, sonorous nose, with blackcurrant and ripe, juicy black plum to the fore, some espressoo and mocha beneath and notes of fresh, damp earth. There's still a typical menthol nuance wafting through the fruit. On the palate it is structured, broad and concentrated, the savoury dark fruit filling the mouth and the tannin structure fine and supple. Balance is excellent, in another beautifully pitched wine. 93/100. £30.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot 2004
The 2004 vintage of Tapanappa's Merlot was limited to just 150 cases, and comes from a cool vintage where the grapes were harvested a week later than normal. The nose has very full fruit, with red plums and a touch of sweet Italian tomato, the oak is adding some cedary charryness, along with clove and espresso coffee. Onto the palate this has some real structure, with a rich, ripe, mouth-filling plum and blackcurrant fruitiness, before spicy, ripe tannins and good acidity add some edge to the creamy opulence of the wine. This is delicious Merlot, slightly more forward and sweet than the 2005, though perhaps lacking a little of the 2005's structure. 91/100. £35.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.