Three superb Tapanappa chardonnays
This trio of meticulously made wines from Tapanappa more than demonstrates why Australian chardonnays are some of the best in the world. One needs but a mere taste to discover that a lifetime of expertise has gone into crafting these immensely pleasurable wines.
Like a perfectly tailored garment, there is an understated nature to the set. They are neither flashy nor trend driven. Instead, they innately reflect their regional and site-specific origins.
Tapanappa today is exclusively owned and run by the Croser family, though it began in 2002 as a partnership between the Crosers, the Cazes family of Lynch Bages in Pauillac Bordeaux, and Bollinger of Champagne. Despite being established almost fifteen years ago, Tapanappa’s true foundations well precede this glittering alliance.
Brian and Ann Croser were among the pioneers of the modern Adelaide Hills wine region, planting the gently sloping Tiers vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley in 1979. Brian was a visionary winemaker who believed in the importance of cool-climate viticulture and established the Petaluma wine company in 1976. The Tiers vineyard quickly showed its ability for producing high-quality table wine and the vineyard was instrumental the foundation of the early Petaluma chardonnays.
The Petaluma brand and winery was purchased by Lion Nathan in 2001. However, the Tiers vineyard remained with the Crosers. They regained ownership of the winery, on Spring Valley Rd Piccadilly, in 2006, leasing the site back to Petaluma until 2014. The Croser family fully re-inhabited the site, just in time for the 2015 vintage. The family operates Tapanappa’s cellar door Thursday to Monday between 11 – 4 pm, (Closed at lunchtime on Fridays).
Today, Brian and Ann’s son-in-law Xavier Bizot and daughter Lucy Croser manage the winery, with Sam Barlow, also son-in-law, attending to the operations, IT and cellar door. Con Moshos, former Petaluma Chief Winemaker, has returned to work with Brian as Managing Winemaker.
Tapanappa Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2015
A gorgeous, pure-fruited wine crafted from hand-harvested Piccadilly Valley fruit. Ripe stone fruit flavours with a juicy mid-palate and focused high acidity. The energy, brightness and drive of this wine are commendable. Made from free-run juice and light pressings, it underwent fermentation in French oak (33% new) and lees ageing. 330 dozen produced. (92 points. AUD $39)
Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard 1.5m Chardonnay 2015
This wine is produced from a unique portion of the Tiers vineyard: a 1.3-hectare section replanted in 2003 with the French Bernard clones 95 and 76. It has close vine spacing of 1.5m x 1.5m, and a fruiting wire a mere half metre from the ground. The wine has an incredibly bright and lemony nose. The palate, deliciously juicy, creamy and sweet-fruited, with intense flavours yet incredible finesse; it almost has a levitating quality to it with its low phenolics and its lifted grapefruit notes plus whisper-soft texture. There is a familiar shadow of the Petaluma chardonnays of the 90s, yet it is a truly modern expression of the site. 200 dozen produced. (93 points. AUD $55)
Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2015
The grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented in French oak (33% new) followed by extended lees ageing. There are layers upon layers of interest and complexity in this wine. This wine opens slowly, revealing a gorgeous savoury core. It has length and presence, and I adore how the flavours expand and unfold on the back of the palate. The wine is by far the most complex and academically satisfying of the three. Made from the Californian sourced OF chardonnay clone, also known as FPS 02A. 180 dozen produced. (96 points. AUD $79)