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95pt Tapanappa Whalebone Merlot Cabernet Franc 2013

£51.00 £41.99
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Is this Australia's answer to Bordeaux's legendary Cheval Blanc?

It might well be! Just like Cheval, it's made from a combination of merlot and cabernet franc grown on limestone soils (just like most of St Emilion). There's even some Bordeaux expertise involved, as Tapanappa was created with the help of the Cazes family, owners of the famed Lynch Bages.

And just like Cheval, the wine has a significant amount of the aromatic, elegant cabernet franc that tempers the lovely soft, fleshiness of the merlot that thrives in these hot climes.

But despite its clear Bordeaux roots, this is Australian wine through and through and you can taste the sunshine and the ripeness, power and concentration that it brings.

It may not have the cachet (or price!) of Cheval but we think this lovely Aussie red would challenge any of the great Right-Bank wines.

Tapanappa flies somewhat under the radar and with just 500 or so cases made, that's the way its fans want it to stay.

We were lucky to get hold of some. If you love Bordeaux or the great reds of the New World, this is a wine you shouldn't miss!

About the wine

The wine is deep and vibrant in colour and the aromas are rich and ripe, with the hallmark Merlot Christmas pudding density. The Cabernet Franc provides a floral and leafy high note to the aromas and flavours and despite its ripeness this is an elegant wine with refined tannins. Fine, ripe fruit threads it's way around a darkly spicy core before an extremely long, savoury finish. With its structure and fine tannin, this is reminiscent of Right-Bank Bordeaux with an Aussie twist.

The hand selected bunches of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Whalebone Vineyard were separately de-stemmed, partially crushed and chilled to 2C into tubs each containing 0.9 tonnes for fermentation.

The tubs of Merlot and Cabernet Franc were then pressed straight to French oak barriques, 90% of which were new and the rest having been used once. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrique in the spring and the barriques were racked off full lees and the wines were sulphured and returned to barrique for another 15 months.

In January 2015, the wines were clear racked from barrique and 56% Merlot and 44% Cabernet Franc were blended ready for bottling on 18th of February 2015.

Winemaker: Brian Croser 
Appellation: Wrattonbully, South Australia

- 95pt, James Halliday
- 94pt, The Wine Front
- 4/5 Stars, Vivino Rating

Grapes: 56% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc
Vineyard: Whalebone Vineyard
Cooperage: 15 months in French Oak Barrels
ABV: 14.8% Tapanappa

About the winery

Tapanappa is an Aboriginal word that, roughly translated, means ‘stick to the path’, and that is what Brian Croser does. He cuts a very direct pathway in the world of wine with a very clear mission to select the most ‘distinguished sites’ with the best climate, soil and geology.

He set up this winery with in partnership with the famous Bollinger family of Champagne and the Cazes family of Bordeaux, thus creating a union of three of the world’s greatest wine families. Blending together the expert knowledge of these three has led to the creation of top quality wine from very specific vineyards in very small quantities. The Tapanappa focus is on three sites: Tiers Vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley (Adelaide Hills) for Chardonnay; Foggy Hill Vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula (South Australia) for Pinot Noir, and this, the Whalebone Vineyard in Wrattonbully, for the Cabernet varieties. 

Croser now runs Tapanappa on his own and has a reputation as a very clean-cut winemaker, with control over every stage of the grape’s path from the vine to the vat. Maximum freshness and maximum flavour is the motive. But once everything is under control in the winery, there’s plenty of experimentation with wild yeasts, a range of oak ageing regimes and temperature variations to lift that complexity

About the vineyard

When the Whalebone vineyard was planted way back in 1974 its pioneers little knew how prized this plot would become. Yes it lies just 20km north of the famous-for-Cabernet Coonawarra region, but who was to know there was a 35 million year old whale skeleton lying in a cave underneath the vines? Of course, the whale skeleton itself doesn’t affect the wine quality here, but it marks out the span of an ancient coastline comprised of Oligocene limestone. Limestone is great for vines, and this particular type is very similar to that found in the hallowed vineyards of St Emilion in Bordeaux. And that’s why it’s so precious – and the perfect site for planting Cabernet and Merlot grapes.

The land here began to rise 0.8 million years ago forming the West Naracoorte Range, hills that rise along the southeast Australian coast. So while it’s no longer lapping at the edge of the Whalebone vineyard, the Great Southern Ocean (now 80km to the west) still provides a tempering influence to the fierce summer temperatures in this part of Australia – and also a gentle humidity – all of which makes for great elegance in the wines. 

About the winemaker

Brian Croser is a great believer in ‘distinguished sites’ for ‘specific grape varieties’. Get the vineyard and climate just right, and your Cabernet, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir will thrive and make the most glorious wine possible. This has been his message for over 40 years now, and Brian’s pioneering work in the Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and in Coonawarra has proved in abundance that matching a grape to its perfect site really works. 

For Shiraz and Viognier Brian has found a home territory in Mount Barker (South Australia). For Pinot Noir, the trickiest grape of them all, the cool, foggy Fleurieu Penninsula (just 8km from the Great Southern Ocean) works best. And Tapanappa marks the next step in Brian’s ‘lifelong mission to nurture the most expressive and unique terroirs of Australia’: this time he’s found the ideal site for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Brian is an Australian wine legend. He has been has been famous as a visionary winemaker since the 1970s. Back then he seemed enigmatic and a little misunderstood but today anyone tasting his wines will know themselves lucky to experience the skills of such a brilliant winemaker!



"56/44% blend matured in 90% new French oak. Balance of fruit, acid and tannin is arguably its key trait, though you can see its charismatic personality getting in a humph over such a call. Choc-spearmint helps bring leather, game, twiggy herbs and sheer cassis flavours together."
95 Points - James Halliday


"Merlot-dominant blend – but don’t let that put you off. It’s both fresh and substantial, oaked but brimful of fruit. It’s carved with tannin but the momentum of flavours charges through regardless. It tastes of boysenberry and black cherry, blackcurrant, coffee-cream and spearmint. It’s a full-bodied red but it feels alive. Vigorous good health, you might say. Super."
94 Points - Campbell Mattinson


"Woody, black fruit, chewy without being overpowering. 56% cab franc, 44% merlot. My idea of a good day out"  5/5 Stars

"Aromas of Black fruit, with leafy notes, hay, contribution of quality oak. Palate has excellent balance, classic merlot symmetry, wide and long in texture, nice tannins. Good wine In a tough year..."  4/5 Stars




Other Details

Alcohol percentage:
Australia's Cheval Blanc? Superb 95 point red from a legendary winemaker
95 point Aussie red - A rival to St Emilion!
"...it’s a full-bodied red but it feels alive. Vigorous good health... Superb" - WineFront
"...it’s a full-bodied red but it feels alive. Vigorous good health... Superb" - WineFront
"...it’s a full-bodied red but it feels alive. Vigorous good health... Superb" - WineFront
Just 500 cases made! Tapanappa Whalebone Merlot Cabernet Franc 2013
2017-07-18 23:59:59
#review=James Halliday:
#review=The Wine Front:
#stars_review=Vivino Rating:
Free delivery when you order 6 bottles or more - mix and match from all available wines in our Wine Offers!
Ends today - 95 point Aussie Merlot, Cab Franc blend - A Rival to St Emilion!

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