Brian Croser started the South Australian winery Petaluma in 1976, with the idea of planting the variety that was best suited to a particular region. Hence he planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Coonawarra, Riesling in the Clare Valley and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Adelaide Hills. Today this sounds like the most natural thing to do, but back in the 1970’s it was revolutionary. Traditionally, Australians planted every conceivable vine variety in the one vineyard, and wondered why most of them made ordinary wine.
In 2001 he experienced a hostile takeover of Petaluma which left a rather bitter taste in his mouth. This has thankfully been put behind him, as in 2003 he linked up with Bordeaux luminary Jean-Michel Cazes, of Château Lynch-Bages fame and his old Petaluma shareholder, Bollinger, in a new multi-regional, multi-national, ultra-premium wine company called Tapanappa. These wines are pretty amazing. They are quite expensive, but all are sourced from single vineyard sites and in my humble opinion, worth every cent.
The wine from Brian Croser that Stuart has chosen is a Riesling from Oregon in the US. Yes his empire extends over to the US, and whilst Oregon has more of a reputation for Pinot Noir, this Riesling is pretty special.
Tunkalilla Vineyard is a tiny Riesling vineyard perched on the southern facing escarpment of the Eola Hills in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. In 2005, Brian and Ann Croser planted 3 acres of Riesling on a then 50-acre Christmas tree farm. Brian has a long association with Oregon, helping to create Argyle Wines in the 1980’s. (One of the standout producers of the area)
The 2008 is the first vintage from this vineyard and boy is it good. Riesling is my favourite variety and this wine is a great example of why! Gorgeous aromatics that are almost floral, but with accents of lime, flint and this amazing mineral like shell character. If you concentrate, you can discern the off-dry levels of residual sugar, but that will miss the point. This wine is in total balance and succeeds in its goal of creating a dry table wine of incredible complexity and structure. For those wine nerds out there it has an acid level of 9.6 gpl (grams per litre) and a residual sugar of 8.6gpl, which in separate wines would be high, but in this wine all you get is balance and structure.
The wine shows spice and toast nuances of its age (remember it is almost 6 years old) and it has tangy apple flavours at the core with this incredible minerally grip and acidity that carries the wine a long way.