Chanson + Tapanappa – a quality convergence
|Top Australian vineyard dirt|
We’re fond of comparing our best wines to their European compatriots here in Australia – we almost obsess about it even. In fact, most of the ‘let’s compare our wines to the best in the world’ masterclass events tend to include an equivalent European wine or three, even when the quality, price levels and styles are completely different. It is not unusual, as a result, to go to a tasting of a brand new $35 Australian Shiraz, from a newish maker, and see it pitched up against a $180 bottle of Hermitage, from an iconic producer…
I personally rather like such comparisons, particularly when the wines are both good (the Hermitage and the Australian wine) and when they’re served blind – it really is great benchmarking. But I still can’t shake the feeling that such new-world-can-beat-the-old-world tastings only perpetuate an unspoken national inferiority complex, an impression that we need to constantly prove that Australian wines are as good as the classic examples.Worse still, such tastings can also reflect a never-acknowledged, subtle sentiment that our best wines just aren’t good enough.
It takes only a few of these masterclasses though to realise that, for varieties like Shiraz and Chardonnay in particular, Australia really can mix it with the best. Sure, many may scoff at such remarks, but all it takes is a 1986 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet, cheekily slipped into a lineup of Bordeaux or other such Cabernet icons, to be reminded that, yes, we can make fucking good wine.
For an example of how close ‘our’ wines and ‘theirs’ can be, I managed to taste the latest releases from the Burgundian producer Chanson alongside those of South Australian producer Tapanappa a few weeks ago, with the Adelaide Hills Chardonnay and Fleurieu Pinot Noir of Tapanappa mixed in with the white and red Burgundy from Chanson.
Such a comparison might seem a little snoozy for those who haven’t tasted the wares of either producer recently, but for mine you’re looking at two producers on the rise. Chanson’s white Burgundies, in particular, have been completely revitalised since Bollinger took control in 1999, and each year the razor sharp purity of the top wines seems more focused, the intensity greater. Similarly, the Tapanappa Pinot Noirs get more interesting each year, the flavours deepening as the young Foggy Hill vines send their roots deeper, whilst the Tier vineyard sourced Chardonnaays just keep on being awesome. This 2010 fourtet is perhaps the best to date, although I tasted the 12s from barrel recently and they promise even more glory.
The following wines then were tasted non-blind in a single, interesting tasting. Much goodness here. Didn’t care as much for the 09 red Burgs. The whites though? Yum…
Extra notes are in italics. Notes are as written on the day (and this was a very brisk tasting).
Chanson Viré Clessé 2010Sourced from two, south-east facing vineyards (Viré and Clessé) in the Macon that together form ‘one single terroir’. Fermented cool in vats.12.5% alc.
Bony, limestone noise but also quite sweet and generous and a little broad. Mealy (lees?) and briny with very good, bright acidity. A little clumsy to finish and even a fraction oxidative. Solid but looked a little entry-level here. 16.5/20 88/100
Chanson Mersault 2010
Sourced from four vineyards, two of which are mid-slope. Slow, cool ferment. 15 months in oak cask with regular battonage. 13.5% alc.
Immediately more precise than the Viré Clessé with proper meal and slightly honeyed melons. Oak more prominent. Rather firm acidity marks the seriousness. Almost raw acidity actually. Authentic flavours, if a bit raw acid and oak. Solid and varietal and pretty good. 17/20 90/100
Chanson Pernand-Vergelesse Les Caradeux 1er Cru 2010
1.9 hectare vineyard located mid-slope close to the hill of Corton. Same soil structure and height as Corton-Charlemagne but with an east exposure. 18 months in oak. 13.5% alc.
Rather backward and lean, grapefruit and wood. Great acidity in a lovely mealy, powerful and coiled style. Deep and firm. Much to come. 17.8/20 92/100+
Tapanappa Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2010
|Top Burgundian vineyard dirt
Sourced from the younger, close-planted vines in the Tiers vineyard. A warmer season in 2010. Fermented in barrique and spends 10 months in oak. 12.8% alc. pH 3.04
More mealy and open than the Burgundies, immediately creamy and with a quite expressive buxom palate. The acidity here is a different shape, more citrus than the bony acid above. Much more expressive and still of a very similar quality vein. Rich and satisfying yet clean. 17.7
Chanson Corton Vergenees Grand Cru 10
‘A very small single vineyard shared between Chanson and the Hospices de Beaune on a hump of the hill of Corton. The vineyard used to belong to the Count of Vergennes, who was counsellor to Louis XVI and signatory for the Treaty of Independence with the United States of America’. 12 months in oak.
Big, biscuity and full, almost caramel in its weight. Acidity here has excellent shape and some gummy solids to finish. Dry and long. Maybe too clean to be great? Very solid and grapefruity yet expressive. Exceptional length. 18.5
Chanson Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc 1er Cru 2010
Sourced from a 2 hectare plot on Clos des Mouches which carries a limestone, clay and silica soil . 14 months in oak.
Gummy, baby sick seashell style (that would be the clay and limestone!). Very briny and backward, Chablisesque style. Infant. So clean and pure and acid driven! Pure acid. Super drive and power. Such acid! Superb wine. 18.8/20 95/100
Chanson Chassagne Montrachet Chenevottes 1er Cru 2010From a 2 hectare plot that sits next to Le Montrachet. 12 months in oak.
Rather flatter and softer and gently nutty after the last wine, but this looks richer and generous. An open and gently nutty, super clean style, but rich too. Wonderfully full and generous, even a little warm to finish. Bloody good and big and lovely. 18.5/20 94/100
Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2010
Sourced from the oldest vines on the vineyard. Slow 6 week fermentation in barrel and 10 months in barrel. Weekly lees stirring. 13.2%, pH 3.15 TA 7g/L.
Custard and milk. A nice synergy with previous ‘bigger’ Burgundy, Creamy palate again with the citrussy acidity. Rather nutty and full with enriched, grilled nut oak and winemaking. Bigger and richer custard apples. Bold flavours and riper yet a lovely full white. Great finesse. Top tier Chardonnay. 18.5/20 94/100
Tapanappa Fleurieu Peninsula Pinot Noir 2010
Comes from the younger ‘block 2’ vineyard at the Foggy Hill vineyard. Picked and transported to the Petaluma winery in the Adelaide Hills. 4 day pre-ferment cold maceration. 30% new oak. 10 months in barrique.12.9% alc. pH 3.65. TA 5.8g/L.
Bright cherry red. Oak sits on top of the fruit here and this is but a baby. Very drying and firm, dark, resinous tannin palate with hard acidity. Expected this to be fuller! Great structure but much too serious to love yet. Love the redcurrant hints to finish. Looks perfectly juicy next to Burgs. 17.5/20 91/100+
Chanson Bourgogne 2010
Very light and indistinct raspberry nose. Rubbery and simple palate. Falls away to finish. Simple wine, no more, and barely perceptible as great. 15.5/20 86/100
Chanson Santenay Beauregard 1er 2009
Sourced from a 3 hectare plot. 15 months in oak.
Rather sweet and lollied nose. Big and warm palate lacks a dose of finesse, the tannins thickly applied to what is a warm and open structure. Could do with more a little less ripeness. The Tapanappa a more pleasurable wine now but scope to improve and they will swap in 5yrs. 17/20 90/100+
Chanson Beaune bastion 1er Cru 2009
Sourced from seven different 1er Cru vineyards in Beaune. 18 months in oak.
Wild, slightly forward nose. Looks a little resinous actually and meaty. Very dry tannins and a menthol note too. Gruff sort of wine but made interesting thanks to the cherry fruit and great tannins. They are burly tannins though, hard fruit and stem tannins. I like but needs food. 17.7/20 92/100
Chanson Beaune Clos De Feves 1er 2009
From a 2.8 hectare monopole that sits mid-slope.
The most obviously voluptuous and utterly Burgundian wine here with a real classic sort of personality. I want to drink this, the riper, quite relaxed flavours suggesting a full drink. Burgundy for sure and lovely briary finish. Lovely open, generous drink. 18.3/20 93/100
Chanson Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er 2009
From a 2.5 hectare section of Clos de Mouches with a clay soil.
Curranty and ripe, small ripe berries. Hint of shrivel. Sweet fruited and rather new world. A little sweet and sour and looks a little simple. Good, not great. 17.3/20 90/100
Chanson Pommard 2009
Red licorice and red fruit. Looks quite alcoholic actually. Falls away at the finish. Simple Simon. 16/20 87/100
Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010
Slightly older vines than the basic ‘Fleurieu’ Pinot. 13.2% alc. pH 3.68. TA 5.7g/L.
Perfectly at home here. Immediately more open and a little sappy. Very cherried and bold. Luscious middle and slightly warm finish. Dry to end and very clever dry tannins. Sweet middle and dry finish. Long too. Clever. Not Burgundy and proudly so. 18/20 93/100