Brian Croser is the man who founded pioneering winery, Petaluma, the first in the Adelaide Hills. He is known as Australia's original ?terroirist? for his unrelenting pursuit of his countryman, Dr AC Kelly's vision of 1867 that ?in the great diversity of soil and climate to be found in Australia, there is little doubt that every variety cultivated in Europe would somewhere find a suitable location.?
After selling Petaluma in 2002, Croser established a new label, Tapanappa, together with the Bollinger family of Champagne (former shareholders in Petaluma) and the Cazes family of Lynch Bages, Bordeaux. Under the Tapanappa label he continues to produce a single vineyard Chardonnay from the Tiers vineyard in Adelaide Hills which belongs to his wife. He also makes a Cabernet/Shiraz from the Whalebone Vineyard, Wrattonbully just north of Coonawarra on the Limestone Coast and last year released Tapanappa's maiden Foggy Hill Pinot Noir from a Fleurieu Peninsula vineyard planted in 2003 to Burgundian clones.
I met with him to catch up on his latest releases ? see here for notes of an earlier tasting at which he presented the maiden Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay and talked about the Whalebone vineyard's unique terroir. The Merlot I tasted at home.
Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2007 (Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills) ? very restrained, almost austere in its structure, with a tight and textured al dente citric backbone (I steal the Italian phrase from Andrew Caillard MW), barely fleshed out as yet with lemon and steely grapefruit and a hint of pear. Proper dry with mineral and savoury notes. Terrific.
Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2007 (Fleurieu Peninsula) ? sweet red cherry nose with 5 spice which flavours follow through on the palate. A touch muddy, despite quite present tannins ? perhaps young (4 year old) vines yet to find their voice?
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard 2004 Merlot (Wrattonbully) ? deep opaque purple with a crimson rim and an equally youthful, opulent, lifted nose with plum with red and blue berries and liquorice. Class in a glass, the palate is rich with velvety tannins, saturated with sweetly ripe fruit balanced by darker, more savoury undertones of liquorice, spice and eucalypt. Generous and vigorous, a really great example of Merlot. Its rich, spicy flavours and smooth texture worked incredibly well with roast vegetables and cous cous ? the caramelised fennel really ran with the liquorice notes in the wine.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard 2005 Cabernet/Shiraz with 10% Cabernet Franc (Wrattonbully) ? an unusually hot year this has a toasty nose and an expansive, generous palate with the dusty eucalypt character I recall from the 2006 tasting and dark rich, chocolate-edged fruit. Big ripe tannins complete the heady picture; like the gout de terroir.