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September 28, 2005
By Clive Platman
©2005, The Birmingham Post
Now in his mid-50s, Brian Croser is regarded by many authorities as the greatest Australian winemaker of his generation. Nominated as Decanter 2004's "Man of the Year", Croser is the pioneer of Australian "terroir" by his insistence on marrying the vineyard site to the ideal grape variety.
Traditionally, Australians planted every conceivable variety in the same vineyard regardless, and then wondered why the quality was so ordinary. By contrast, Croser, whose ambitions have always been at the premium end of the market, introduced the idea of planting the most suitable variety. Under his Petaluma label, founded by him in 1976, Cabernet and Merlot were grown in the Terra Rossa soils in Coonawarra, Riesling in high-altitude Clare, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the cooler Adelaide Hills.
A very interesting debut release. This wine is the result of a project between the Croser family of Piccadilly Valley in South Australia and the Bollinger family of Champagne and the Cazes family of Lynch Bages, Bordeaux. Brian Croser has made the wine. WrattonBully is situated south of Coonawarra. It has the same soil of the best of Coonawarra namely Terra Rossa; a really rich red soil. It's a 30 year old vineyard known as the Whalebone Vineyard. It's an ancient shoreline and the bones of a stranded whale from many years ago are visble in the caves underneath the vineyard. A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Shiraz, and 10% Cabernet Franc, aged in new French barriques for 20 months. The Bordeaux influence is clear in this elegant Australian red. Spicy berry fruit on the nose with perfumed asian spices from the toasty French oak. It has sweet fruit with a savoury edge too.
This September will see the release of an exceptionally distinctive South Australian red from a triumvirate of Brian Croser (Petaluma), the Cazes family (Ch Lynch Bages) and Bollinger (as announced here last year).
Tapanappa 2003, a 70:20:10 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon:Shiraz:Cabernet Franc from a single vineyard in Wrattonbully just north of Coonawarra, was launched this week in London, not because the wine is aimed specifically at the UK market ? just 150 of the total 950-case production will be available in the UK, as in the US ? but because London was the easiest place for all three parties to get to, especially now that Croser's only grandchild, Christian son of Xavier Bizot of Bollinger, is based in Europe ? for the moment.