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Tapanappa Whalebone Cabernet ShirazLike the proverbial bus once you discover one million year old whale skeleton in a vineyard you discover another.
Down Australia way in Brain Croser’s ‘Whalebone’ vineyard in Wrattonbully, South Australia, they have a cave that contains an 800,000 year old whale ‘ripping’ through the soil.

This unique vineyard was planted 30 years ago, on the eastern edge of the west Naracoorte Range, 20 kilometres north of Coonawarra. At the time it was a lonely vineyard on
the edge of the Naracoorte Caves National Park but it is now part of the emerging Wrattonbully viticultural region.
Not even the pioneers who planted the vineyard could have possibly realised how special the site is. Sitting right over the eastern edge of the north south Kanawinka Fault it is probably the oldest shoreline on the plain leaning away to the Great Southern Ocean, 80 kilometres west.
About 800,000 years ago the Great Southern Ocean pounded up against the cliff representing the Kanawinka Fault and formed a sandy beach. A whale, probably a Great Southern Right (Eubalaena Australis), was stranded on the beach, buried in the sand and then preserved in the limestone formed by the dissolving shell material washed down the profile. The limestone has itself been eroded leaving the wonderful bright red soil on the top of the ridge on which the Whalebone Vineyard is planted. The erosion of the limestone continued underground and has formed a large cave complex exposing the bones of the 800,000 year old whale in its walls below the vineyard.
Such is the stuff that makes a unique “terroir”.
The Whalebone Vineyard is sheltered from the worst effects of the winds off the Great Southern Ocean but enjoys its moderating effect creating a special climate for Cabernet Sauvignon. The fractured limestone cap and the deep Terra Rossa soil, allow the vine roots to exploit the limestone and clay rich lower layers deep within the ancient shoreline.”

Sadly I have yet to sample the Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet-Shiraz produced from this unique terroir. Avery’s of Bristol and Noel Young Wines list the 2004 vintage, the second released, at £29.99. The Fareham Wine Cellar have the 2003 at £25.99.

2 Comments »

  1. Edward says:

    Andrew,
    The whale bone is even older – Croser had it carbon dated and it is 35 million years old!
    Below is the URL to the story – the whale bone is mentioned in the penultimate paragraph.
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21510528-32683,00.html
    Cheers

  2. Andrew says:

    Well, hows about that then! Cheers for the info and link Edward, most interesting.

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