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Last week my bloodstream was replaced by a stream of 2008 burgundy in my veins. (We are just about to publish more than 1,350 tasting notes on this intriguing vintage, the result of intensive tasting during a week in Burgundy in November and the last two weeks in London.)
I tried to have minimal commitments in the evenings between the 27 burgundy tastings that took place around London - although Alan Bennett’s play The Habit of Art at the National Theatre proved a fine distraction on Thursday and last Monday evening, relatively unusually, I played the part of ‘my companion’ as Nick reviewed a restaurant.
On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings last week, however, we had a quiet, restorative supper at home and, believe it or not, I felt like a glass of wine. For interest’s sake I opened a bottle of a quite different 2008 Pinot Noir. To my surprise, Tapanappa, Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 Fleurieu Peninsula from a brand new southern extremity of South Australia proved a delicious punctuation to a fortnight of tasting burgundy and more than held its own. It had both fruit and freshness but is far from simple. In fact I compared it with a famous Kiwi Pinot from my cellar, Dry River Pinot Noir 2001 Martinborough, and found it very much more elegant, refreshing and nuanced. (This is not meant as a trans-Tasman generalisation, by the way.)
Clones are Burgundian. Yield was just 5 tonnes/ha and only 600 dozen bottles were made. About a third new French barriques and no filtration. 14% alcohol.
Comparing this Pinot Noir with Pinots from some of Australia's other Pinot regions, I'd say it is somewhere in weight between the delicacy of typical offerings from Mornington Peninsula and some of the rather richer bottlings from, say, Gippsland.
This is the second vintage from Foggy Hill vineyard, the chilly slope* (pictured above looking anything but foggy) in the middle of his new toy, a sheep farm, that has been planted by Brian Croser, ex Petaluma. The 2008 is tasting beautifully now. In fact the remains of the bottle were still delightful Sunday last night as an aperitif before viewing the new George Clooney film Up in the Air that I found less exciting than most reviews suggest. (Yes, this is the arts section of this website.)
I see that for the moment the wine seems available retail only on the Tapanappa website and in Australia for around Aus$47 (approx £25) a bottle, but I understand it is on the water en route to the UK and look forward very much to seeing it better distributed. I am told that in the UK it will be available from Fine & Rare, Edencroft Fine Wine and the Fine Wine Company. Look out for it.
*Here’s the official background to Foggy Hill from the Tapanappa team:
The Foggy Hill Vineyard is on a northwest-facing slope at 300 to 350 metres (ASL) at Parawa, the highest point of the Fleurieu Peninsula half way between Victor Harbor and Cape Jervis.
The soils are derived from the Tertiary era (67ma) remnant lateritic plateau of the Fleurieu Peninsula and include outcrops of ironstone (ferricrete), which litter the slope beneath the vines. These ironstone deposits are the result of the deep weathering of the underlying meta-sandstones of the Back Stairs Passage Formation, Cambrian era (570ma) sediments of the Kanmantoo Group.
The steep slope of Foggy Hill Vineyard ensures that the soil is of moderate depth and free draining containing a jumble of the ironstone eroded from the outcrops. These are ideal viticultural soils and particularly for the very fastidious Pinot Noir variety. The climate of Foggy Hill Vineyard is very maritime. The Great Southern Ocean just 8 kilometres to the south keeps the winter warm and the summer cool. Bud burst is early in September and the crop is harvested in the middle of March. During this 7 month growing season the heat summation is only 1134.7ºC days, which is even cooler than Piccadilly [in the Adelaide Hills] at 1172ºC days, and there is rarely a hot day although the nights are warm. The average diurnal temperature difference for the growing season is a low 8.45°C and the 3pm humidity is high at 64%.
The very cool, humid and even Foggy Hill climate is ideal for encouraging the production of the exotic aromatic and ethereal qualities described as the peacock’s tail of Pinot Noir. Foggy Hill Vineyard on Maylands Farm at Parawa on the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula has the potential to be a truly distinguished site for Pinot Noir.