BRIAN Croser continues on his march to perfection even though his army of admirers would probably agree he has already scaled winemaking’s highest peak.
When he offloaded his pride and joy – the super-premium Adelaide Hills winery Petaluma, which he founded in 1976 – to Lion Nathan seven years ago, he immediately moved on to his next challenge in partnership with a couple of heavyweight partners.
From his bulging global contact book, Croser was able to entice the Champagne region’s esteemed House of Bollinger and the Cazes family of Bordeaux’s Chateau Lynch-Bages fame as investors in his Tapanappa Wines project.
Before long, he had three prime viticultural regions from which to draw fruit: the Tiers chardonnay vineyard in the Adelaide Hills (his old stamping ground), the Foggy Hill pinot noir vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula and Whalebone vineyard at Wrattonbully, which delivers cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz.
From his Piccadilly Valley base in the Adelaide Hills, the master technician crafts a superb range of wines that are the equal of the nation’s finest.
At a Neil Perry-created lunch at his Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney’s CBD, Croser presented Tapanappa’s 2008 Froggy Hill Pinot Noir, 2006 Whalebone Merlot, 2006 Wrattonbully Shiraz (all $45), 2008 Tiers Chardonnay and 2006 Whalebone Cabernet Shiraz (both $75) to match with fare of the highest, most scrumptious order.
When Croser purchased a farm on the Fleurieu Peninsula to grow prime lambs, not for one moment did he think he would end up planting pinot noir.
But after doing his checks and balances, he was supremely confident the variety would do rather well.
Six years on and his 4ha are producing pinots with extraordinary depth and finesse.
The Tiers chardonnay is simply awesome, a spectacular wine featuring rich peach flavours and a gentle hint of oak. The merlot, shiraz and cabernet-shiraz are other impressive flag bearers from one of Australia’s most astute vignerons.