Making our drops hot – The Australian 5/08/2015

Author: Will Lyons
Source: The Australian
Review Date: Aug 2015

The following article featured in The Australian 5/08/2015

Brian Croser says the future of Australia’s fine wine lies in the country’s cool-climate areas


Can you name the world’s great fine-wine regions? This wine con- noisseurs’ parlour game usually ends up in a heated discussion of the merits of, say, a velvet-textured Napa cabernet over the brooding, peppery power of northern Rhone syrah.
Inevitably, the first mentioned are the great regions of France and Italy (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Pied- mont and Tuscany), closely fol- lowed by the Mosel in Germany and Champagne.

The common theme that arises from this game is that for a region to qualify as truly great it has to have a cool climate. What one doesn’t equate with greatness is desert and heat, which is where Australian wine — or rather the perception of Australian wine — falls down.

“The assumption has always been that Australia is a hot desert country that can’t produce pinot noir,” says Brian Croser, owner of South Australian winery Tapanappa. “But in Australia we have a rich pool of cool-climate areas that are not fully appreciated.”

Croser knows a thing or two about Australian wine. The former chief winemaker at Hardys caused a stir in the late 1970s when he founded Petaluma winery and began the process of matching grape varieties to certain regions.

In 1976 he founded a course in wine science at the Riverina College of Advanced Education, which later became the school of agricultural and wine sciences at Charles Sturt University in NSW, one of Australia’s largest wine schools. Today he wants to alter perceptions again. Having intro- duced the concept of regionality into Australian wine, he now be- lieves its future lies in the country’s cool-climate areas.

Going from west to east, he points to regions such as Margaret River, the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley, Gippsland and King Valley, which can produce the wines that can get Australia talked about again.

It has been a long time coming. Australia burst on to the interna- tional wine scene in the late 80s with names such as Jacob’s Creek
and Yellow Tail as it became the first port of call for British supermarkets looking for good, afford- able wines. By the late 90s, the rest of the New World had caught up and Australia found itself undercut by South America, South Afri- ca and California’s Central Valley.

But, as Croser points out, fine wine is nothing new in Australia. Back in the early 80s it was the aged semillons of the Hunter Valley, the great cabernet sauvignons of Coonawarra and the bold shirazes of the Barossa Valley that caught the attention of the Institute of Masters of Wine in London and really established momentum behind the industry.

His own wines, especially the chardonnay, show a cool-climate grace. I would add Bellevue Estate, Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Moss Wood, Cullen Wines, Petaluma, Vasse Felix and Voyager as producers to try.

Three Croser wines worth seeking out


A refined and subtle chardonnay, the elegance of this wine is reminiscent of the great examples found in Burgundy. With stone fruit and melon on the nose, it has a crisp, dry finish that is both a little nutty and pleasantly savory.


Dark and brooding, there’s a powerful ripe-plum scent to this wine. Cabernet can be a bit hollow on its own and the shiraz adds a little spice and improves the texture. There’s sweet fruit but the overall impression is one of a saline dryness.


The vines that produce the grapes for this wine come from Dijon clones, and the wine has a nuanced and Burgundian feel. The nose is spicy with some oak. Once sipped, a classic red- fruit structure courses through the wine. But, above all, it’s light and fresh.

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