|What these wines unequivocally showed is that the Croser vision for grand Australian wines has come to reality.|
The sharp-minded, deliberate and controversial Brian Croser has been a forceful and polarising advocate of Australia’s fine wine agenda for several decades. His technical brilliance, work ethic and ambitions have inspired excellence, whilst his prodigious intellect has challenged thinking and perspectives. Like a great Shakespearean actor, who knows every play line, his stage presence and masterful performances have shaped his reputation and the standing of Australian wine. His contribution is significant and his legacy long lasting.
When I think of Croser’s part in the story of Australian wine, I think of him affectionately. He rightly belongs to the pantheon of great Australian visionaries. Among those in this special group of wine people through the ages are Sir William Macarthur, Francois de Castella, Thomas Hardy, Max Schubert and Croser’s hero Dr AC Kelly. They all believed in something greater than themselves and hoped Australia would become a great fine wine making nation. Inevitably such ambition is accompanied by flaws of magnitude, but it takes a particular type of character to drive an agenda and build it into something tangible and meaningful.
Way back in the late 1980s Croser began to talk about ‘distinguished vineyard sites’ and Australian terroir. At the time the wine industry was not on this pathway. Croser’s mindset was advanced and ambitious for its time. His viewpoints, combined with his technical skills, impressed other winemakers and wine trade people. When Langton’s Classification of Distinguished Australian Wine was launched in 1990, I inserted the ‘Distinguished’ to align ourselves with this agenda.
Over the ensuing years the concept of Distinguished Vineyard Sites and terroir wines have become better understood and embraced by the wine trade and consumers. But when tasting a single-site wine, it is not always possible to pick up aromas or flavours that make a place unique. One can only determine its quality. Aspiration, endeavour and history, the things that cannot be tasted, are the elements that truly connect a place with wine.
In Australia the possibilities are endless for single site vineyard wines, but the journey to greatness is difficult. Not everyone’s ambitions, selections and perspectives are going to carry the distance. It often takes multi-generational bloody-mindedness to build an epic and believable story. Sometimes a single person can do extraordinary things and Croser is one of them. Tapanappa represents a lifetime’s ambition to create something tangible and lasting in the world of wine. This was a very moving tasting on many levels.
Tiers Vineyard – Chardonnay – Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is the source of Tapanappa’s emblematic wines. Through light and shade of vintage, they profoundly highlight a connectivity of place. The essence of vineyard site, the vine stock material, the development of style, the personality and story of Croser himself are all wrapped into the expression and stature of the Tapanappa marque. In many respects Croser established the expectation for modern Australian Chardonnay. Despite the technical deviations and by-roads, the classic aesthetic has not changed. Fruit purity, barrel fermentation, creamy textures and mineral cut are themes across vintage. The wines are expressive, beautiful and timeless in style.
2018 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Fresh grapefruit, grilled nut aromas with flinty/ vanilla/hint marzipan notes. Beautifully concentrated grapefruit, nectarine fruits, fine chalky textures, very good mid palate creaminess/ viscosity, underlying vanilla marzipan oak notes and fresh long indelible acidity. Classic Chardonnay with lovely creaminess and mineral length.
Drink now – 2030 13.5% alc 97 points
2019 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Intense aniseed grapefruit, lime, grilled nut aromas with some marzipan, toasty notes. Tightly structured and minerally with attractive lemon curd grapefruit, lime flavours, some aniseed and fresh searing acidity. Refined and racy. Some bottle age will give it complexity and more volume.
Drink now – 2030 14.4% alc 96 points
2020 Tapanappa Tiers 1.5m Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Beautifully aromatic wine with grapefruit, grilled nut, vanilla aromas and touches of verbena/ aniseed. Concentrated lemon curd, grapefruit flavours, fine chalky a touch grainy textures, hazelnut marizipan, vanilla oak and long steely acidity. Searingly fresh with al-dente notes. Touch lean – will build up.
Drink now – 2032 13.9% alc 94 points
2020 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Pear, grapefruit, nectarine aromas with toasty marzipan notes. Fresh grapefruit, lemon curd, pearskin, apple flavours, lacy chalky tannins, toasty, marzipan, vanilla notes and fresh crispy acidity. Very good mineral line and length.
Drink now – 2032 13.9% alc 95 points
2021 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Lovely developed honey, grapefruit, lime aromas with hints of SO2. Restrained, almost backward wine with grapefruit, lime, apple fruits, fine al dente chewy textures, some underlying nutty oak. Finishes minerally and long. Very tight.
Drink 2024 – 2034 13.4% alc 93 points
2021 Tapanappa Tiers 1.5m Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – South Australia
Pale colour. Intense vanilla, marzipan, lime cordial aromas with tonic water notes. Richly flavoured lime cordial, vanilla, grapefruit flavours, fine lacy/ chalky textures and long fresh acidity. Lovely precision and mineral length.
Drink now – 2034 13.4% 96 points
Foggy Hill Vineyard – Pinot Noir – Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Foggy Hill Pinot Noir highlights the stewardship behind the development of a single vineyard site. Although the style is a work in progress, the commitment to the cause of individual expression is impressive. The vineyard, the variety and the structure of the wine are all interconnected to the growing season and the fragility of nurture. These artful wines are fascinating and everchanging like the everchanging light of dawn.
2009 Foggy Hill Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Developed red cherry, tobacco, chinotto aromas. Fresh developed red cherry, strawberry, corkwood flavours, fine sinewy but sinuous textures. Attractive underlying savoury notes. Finishes bittersweet.
Drink now – 2028 13% alc 92 points
2014 Foggy Hill Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Strawberry, dried roses, herb garden aromas with aniseed notes. Well-developed strawberry pastille, hint stonefruit flavours, fine chalky textures, attractive mid palate viscosity and mineral length. Builds up chalky at the finish with persistent red berry fruits. Touch of roasted walnut notes.
Drink now – 2030 13.7% alc 95 points
2018 Foggy Hill Definitus Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Dark and red cherry, negroni/ Americano aromas with herb notes. Expressive, fleshy and supple with ample dark cherry, Negroni flavours, fine lacy textures and underlying savoury oak notes, Finishes al dente and minerally. Delicious wine.
Drink now – 2032 14% alc 96 points
2019 Foggy Hill Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Dried roses, cola, red cherry, strawberry fruits with herbal notes. Richly flavoured strawberry, Cola, dried herb flavours, slinky textures and underlying vanilla notes with a chalky dry finish.
Drink now – 2028 13% alc 94 points
2021 Foggy Hill Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula – South Australia
Medium crimson. Red cherry pastille, hint bush garrigue with touches of vanilla. Round and supple with red cherry, red liquorice flavours, fine chalky / lacy textures and attractive mineral length. Minerally, structured and needs some time to develop.
Drink now – 2028 12.5% alc 92 points
Whalebone Vineyard – Red Blends – Wrattonbully – South Australia
The 1974-established Whalebone Vineyard reveals Croser’s long held belief in the potential of weathered limestone soils and the upwelling power of the Southern Ocean. The soils, similar to Coonawarra, and climate are seen as brilliantly suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. These claret-style wines are consistently stylish and delicious to drink.
2010 Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Deep crimson. Intense black cherry pastille, cassis, tobacco leaf corkwood aromas with a hint of mint. Sweet fruited wine with deep set black cherry, dark plum, cedar flavours, chewy firm a touch sappy tannins and still has a core of fruit sweetness with liquorice notes to finish.
Drink now – 2032 14.1% alc 92 points
2010 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Bush garrigue, dark chocolate, dark berry fruits with cedar notes. Richly concentrated fruit sweet wine with plentiful inky dark berry liquorice humbug flavours cedar wood notes and fresh integrated acidity, Very good volume and torque.
Drink now – 2032 14.3% alc 93 points
2012 Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Blackcurrant cedar, liquorice Amaro aromas. Generous and chocolaty textured with deep set blackcurrant, liquorice mint flavours, chocolaty dry textures, very good mid palate volume and attractive linear freshness before finishing chewy firm.
Drink now – 2028 15.1% alc 93 points
2012 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Minty, blackberry, cassis aromas with mocha/ espresso notes. Well balanced wine with fresh blackberry cassis flavours, slinky textures and mocha, roasted walnut notes. Slinky firm touch al dente/ chewy/ cedar notes at the finish.
Drink now – 2030 14.4% 95 points
2015 Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Reserve – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Medium deep crimson. Mulberry, blackcurrant roasted walnut aromas and flavours, very good density, fine ripe chocolaty tannins, beautiful mid palate richness and volume. Finishes cedar firm with ample sweet fruit with a touch of aniseed.
Drink now – 2030 14.5% alc 94 points
2016 Terre a Terre Crayères Vineyard Reserve – Wrattonbully – South Australia
Medium deep crimson, Mulberry dark fruits, cedar herb garden notes with liquorice aniseed notes. Chocolaty/ slinky textured wine with lovely dark berry fruits, some liquorice notes. Very good mid plate density and torque. Very good.
Drink now – 2030 14.5% alc 94 points