Brian Croser's fine wines from Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula
and Wrattonbully, with Xavier Bizot
written about Brian Croser’s Tapanappa before on this site, in an
article based on a visit to meet Brian back in 2005. At the time, he
was releasing the first wines from his new venture, which is a
partnership together with the Bollinger family from Champagne and
Jean-Michel Cazes from Bordeaux.
goal? To discover privileged sites for wine growing, and make
world-class fine wines from them. The first Tapanappa vineyard was
purchased in 2002. It’s the Koppamurra
Vineyard, in Wrattonbully, north of Coonawarra, and this has since
been renamed the Whalebone Vineyard. Brian
knew the potential of this site: he’d made wines from the first
grapes off it, back in 1980.
addition to the portfolio was the Tiers Chardonnay, from the
vineyard Brian had planted on his property in the Adelaide Hills.
The third was the Foggy Hill vineyard, from a cool site in the
Fleurieu peninsula which Brian had prospected and then planted.
has 8 hectares of vines, with a further 8 hectares of young vines.
Tiers is 3.5 hectares and the Foggy Hill vineyard is 4 hectares, so
by Australian standards this is quite small scale.
met with Brian’s son-in-law Xavier Bizot (right) to taste
these wines. Xavier is from the Bollinger family, and has relocated
to Australia. He started work with Tapanappa in June 2008, initially
to look after export markets. Now he’s concentrating on domestic
markets and getting more involved with viticulture and winemaking.
‘Tapanappa will always remain single vineyards,’ he says.
‘We’ll never try to make volumes. The idea is always to focus on
‘Etages’ Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 Adelaide Hills
In South Australia generally this was a very challenging
vintage, with three or four days of very high temperatures before
harvest. But in the Tiers vineyard there was just one day at 35 °C
and that was it. This is very fresh and focused with lovely taut,
subtly toasty citrussy fruit, as well as some fresh bready notes.
There’s lively acidity and it is quite mineral. Real intensity
here. It’s just a baby, and has potential for development. 95/100
Pinot Noir Foggy Hill Vineyard 2008 Fleurieu Peninsula
This comes from a vineyard Brian planted close to the southern
ocean in the south of Fleurieu, at 750 metres in the middle of a
sheep farm. He planted 2 hectares in 2003, at 4400 vines/hectare
(1.5 x 1.5 m, French clones, low fruiting wire of 50 cm) and then 2
ha more in 2006/07. Lovely aromatic, bright cherry fruit nose with
some berry notes and subtle leafiness. The palate is really light,
harmonious and elegant with subtle cherry and spice notes.
Beautifully complex with real interest and a long mineral finish.
Whalebone Vineyard Merlot 2006 Wrattonbully
This is the last vintage of the varietal Merlot. Subtle mint and
menthol edge to the red/black fruits nose. The palate is fresh and
fruity with a minty edge to the bright berry fruits, as well as a
nice broad texture with a long finish. 92/100
Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2006 Wrattonbully
A cool season, but with a warm January. Very nicely textured
with smooth but rich berry fruits with amazingly soft fruit backed
up by very fine-grained tannins. Superbly elegant with lovely
Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2005 Wrattonbully
A warmer vintage. Nice, open aromatics with berry and cherry
fruit. Quite warm. The palate is sweetly fruit with lovely smooth
tannins. Quite silky with just a hint of mint. Very stylish. 92/100
Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2004 Wrattonbully
A cooler vintage. Sweetly aromatic nose with subtle herby notes
as well as sweet berry fruit. The palate is so smooth: rich and
sweet but not heavy, beginning to show some evolution with complex
spices and herby notes. Thrillingly expressive. 93/100
a tasting in June 2009:
Etages Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 Adelaide Hills
Lifted nose: lemony, herbal, subtly nutty with hints of toast and
vanilla. A very fresh, light-textured style with complex yet
restrained fruit. Aiming at elegance with a light, pure, lemony
fruit character. Nice oak use. You could miss this, but it seems to
pick up complexity in the glass. 92/100
Pinot Noir Foggy Hill Vineyard 2007 Fleurieu Peninsula
Pale colour. Sophisticated, elegant, brooding cherry and herb
nose. The palate is savoury and backward with lovely focused cherry
fruit and some nice structure. A young but potentially superb Pinot
Noir with some serious spicy structure, all from young vines. 92/100
Croser, Petaluma and Tapanappa (series)
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