If you need a reason to try Brian Croser's pinot noirs, big name partners Bollinger and Cazes might be a good place to start.
Brian Croser recently breezed through town and for wine nerds like me it's a little like Elvis pulling in at Gambaro's for some fish and chips. He came here with a purpose, and that was to show the latest range of Tapanappa wines ? this the third release, which just happens to carry a slightly fatter portfolio than the
The big news is the inaugural release of the Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (2007, $50). First James Halliday and then Max Allen have talked it up, and whenever a pinot noir from anywhere outside Victoria or Burgundy is given the
nod by Melburnians the earth stops turning for a moment. And for a South Australian pinot, well, I'm still chuckling weeks later.
But the Tapanappa is worth all the attention, for three different reasons. Firstly, is the last commercially released pinot from Brian Croser ? the 1989 Petaluma Tiers ? which was less exciting than we had hoped. It has taken him nearly 20 years to
release the next one, but he definitely got it right.
Secondly, it is Tapanappa, which means it has had the Croser intellect focused on its provenance, its production and its release, as well as the assets of the other Tapanappa partners ? Champagne Bollinger and the Cazes family from Bordeaux.
I can?t imagine that there will be a weak wine allowed to penetrate that particular armory.
But most importantly, it is not just a fabulous pinot (and it is, with whiffs of new oak, and a lift of ripe strawberry and floral fruit; but most importantly of all it has a fabulous, prominent tannin), but it is a whole new benchmark for South Australian pinot noir in both style and quality.
Alongside the Foggy Vineyard Pinot are some new vintages of the rest of the Tapanappa stable: 2007 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay ($75), 2005 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot (sold out) and 2005 Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz ($75).
The chardonnay fruit comes from the top section of the Tiers Vineyard, which has thinner, rockier soils and yields finer, leaner wine. The 2007 is built on a restrained, tightly wound base of fruit. Then it is overlaid with gently spicy oak, and mealy, porridge characters. It is seriously good chardonnay.
The merlot I think is the best wine in the Tapanappa stable. If you think that merlot by nature is soft, fruity and fleshy, think again. The serious merlots of the world ? of which, this is one ? have spines of tannin and weighty fruit that give them both stature and the ability to age.
The 2005 Cabernet Shiraz from the Whalebone Vineyard could be considered the flagship of the Tapanappa range and this third release is the best so far. It's a
powerhouse with a pretty edge ? an expressive wine, with a firm, solid structure, and lashings of fruit.
It will be interesting to watch the following releases of the Foggy Hill pinot as the vines gain maturity. But it's been fun to watch this first release in terms of our perceptions of South Australian pinot noir, how it should taste, and where it is best grown.