Croser/Bollinger/Lynch Bages down under

The following has just been announced by the Croser and Bollinger families (recently allied in marriage) and Jean-Michel Cazes of Ch Lynch Bages (who has been lighting Croser’s fire with his newfound passion for the Languedoc):
Brian Croser, Australian winemaker, today announced the establishment of an Australian grape growing and winemaking partnership with Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch- Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux and Societe Jacques Bollinger, the parent company of Champagne Bollinger.

The partnership called Tapanappa Wines Pty. Ltd. has acquired the Koppamurra Vineyard at Joanna, in the Australian grape growing region of Wrattonbully, adjacent to Coonawarra.

Mr Croser commented, "The Koppamurra Vineyard is one of the two original vineyards in the Wrattonbully region and was established in 1975. I first made wine from the vineyard in 1980, under contract instruction from Geoff Weaver. The 1980 Ashbourne Cabernet Sauvignon, made from the Koppamurra fruit is still an intense ripe fruit wine of exquisite balance, finesse and complexity. I have been interested to do something in that region and with the Koppamurra Vineyard ever since making that wine."

Tapanappa acquired the Koppamurra Vineyard prior to the 2003 vintage and has completely restructured the old vines of the vineyard onto new vertical shoot positioned trellis. The 2003 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines are currently in new French oak barriques and will be blended and bottled for release under the Tapanappa brand name in early 2005.The Tapanappa Cabernets blend will be distributed globally by the established fine wine networks of Bollinger and Cazes.

Mr Croser commented,"This partnership is a unique opportunity to harness the viticultural, winemaking, fine wine distribution and marketing skills of Jean Michel Cazes and of Bollinger, to make and sell wines from the very best vineyards in Australia. The vineyard is a mature vine, low crop, dry land vineyard on the purest terra rossa in the south east of South Australia. The climate of the vineyard is slightly warmer and less windy than Coonawarra and it is truly a "distinguished site."

Mr Croser added that Tapanappa was interested in other grape varieties on other unique sites in Australia. "The aim of the partnership is to employ the most fastidious viticultural methods to the very best vineyard sites in Australia and to produce small quantities of exquisite wine that will stand alongside the very best on offer in global fine wine markets. The vineyard is capable of doing that."

Mr Croser is Managing Director of Tapanappa Wines but will continue as consulting winemaker for his beloved Petaluma Wines, the company he and his wife Ann founded in 1976 and which is now owned by Lion Nathan.

Mr Croser concluded, "The excitement in my future is the development of the unique vineyard sites and wines of the Tapanappa partnership. However I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my involvement with Petaluma as it nears its thirtieth year as one of Australia’s most focused and successful premium wine companies."

Jean-Michel Cazes commented "I am happy and looking forward to contributing to produce great wines at Tapanappa. The construction of a new vineyard in a different but high-quality terroir and environment is a fascinating experience which I had been pursuing for some time. I believe that being able to do it in association with such companies or personalities as Brian Croser and Bollinger is an exceptional privilege for me".

Arnould d’Hautefeuille, Chairman of Societe Jacques Bollinger added: "as former partners in Petaluma with Brian Croser, we are thrilled to be actively involved in this new joint venture established with him and Jean-Michel Cazes. We are confident that Tapanappa wines will be at the very highest quality level available on world markets and will provide another benchmark for regional Australian wine of a special terroir."

So that’s nice, isn’t it? Though funny to me to read about how ancient is the history of a vineyard that dates back all the way to 1975. And it certainly sets in context Croser’s recent comments about others’ viticultural techniques in nearby Coonawarra.