Earlier in the week, I hurriedly tasted the current releases of Tapanappa’s three single vineyard wines. All are worthy and exciting but I was especially drawn to this one. I have been looking forward to spending a bit more quality time with it.
I’ve had some pretty strong reactions against some Australian Chardonnays over the past few years that have seemed, to me, stylistically forced. The swing against our now-reviled broader styles perhaps inevitably went hard, and on many occasions the new wave of Chardonnays seemed to me more a matter of fashion than a deeper engagement with variety and site. Interestingly, Tapanappa’s philosophy of wine is centered on the idea of distinguished sites, sites whose terroirs perfectly marry with the grape variety to which they are planted. Not a new idea, to be sure, but one that is pursued with some purity by this producer and one that, in theory, should cut through stylistic fashion. Is there a single truth of a particular terroir and variety? I’m not sure I know the answer…
Although this falls into the category of richer, more worked wines, it has a delicacy and clarity of expression that defies its weight and complexity. The aroma is full of distinct notes, tending towards savoury and taut yet underpinned by luscious stonefruit and caramel. It’s rich and nimble at the same time, perhaps a function of its youth (and, dare I say, the screwcap closure). Oak is present in a floral, vanillan thread that weaves in and out of the fruit flavours. There’s a lot going on here.
The palate, as with the nose, is a balance of nervous vitality and muscle. Again, complex in terms of flavour profile, moving from savoury lees notes through a range of stonefruit and citrus to beautifully balanced butterscotch and caramel. The architecture of the wine is most impressive: its flavours are clear and distinct, and sit within a large scale frame that exists without heaviness. Here’s a wine that shows the full range of winemaking input without it ever overwhelming the essential qualities of its fruit. One can indeed have one’s cake and eat it too.