Exploring South Australia’s Back Roads

Author: Czerwinski
Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Review Date: Sep 2010

Barossa and McLaren vale get the lion’s share of the accolades, but other parts of South Australia are producing world-class wines that are distinctly different.

At Petaluma, the early emphasis was on sparkling wines, back in 1976 when Brian Croser established it. The Piccadilly Valley is the coolest viticultural region in South Australia, and is the focus of the winery’s Chardonnay production, anchored by the Tiers Vineyard, which Croser planted in 1978. “It’s always been the backbone of the [Petaluma] blend,” says winemaker Andrew Hardy, now in his second stint with the winery.

Early versions of Petaluma’s sparkling wines were Chardonnay-dominant, although the current-release 2007 Croser is 70% Pinot Noir. “The early wines needed more time on lees, also we’re using more Chardonnay for table wines now,” explains Hardy. Unlike most New World sparkling wines, Petaluma’s ferment in barrel and are put through malolactic fermentation, giving them a soft, creamy palate with hints of toasted nuts.

Just a bit further south and inland is Wrattonbully, a relatively recent addition to the South Australia wine scene, where Croser sources Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz for his tripartite TapaNappa project with Champagne Bollinger and Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages. Yalumba has vineyards in the area as well, and Senior Red Winemaker Peter Gambetta confides, “We’re pretty excited about Merlot in Wrattonbully.”

The region shares similar soils to Padthaway to the north and Coonawarra to the south: areas of terra rossa and dark sandy loams over limestone bedrock. The underlying limestone aquifers provide the water needed for frost protection and irrigation in these three regions, which are collectively referred to as the Limestone Coast.

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