By Fergal Gleeson
Petaluma founder Brian Croser is one of Australia’s mostly highly awarded winemakers. Croser was a highly influential lecturer in the 1970s and 1980s at Riverina College (now Charles Sturt University).
He was noted for his focus on preserving fruit flavour through ultra-clean and strictly anaerobic winemaking techniques. This focus on ‘clean wine’ gave Australian wines a consistency of quality and a competitive advantage over old world wines for many years.
Brian Croser was also ahead of his time in his conviction of planting the right varietals in the locations to which they were best suited. Petaluma planted Cabernet and Merlot in Coonawarra, Riesling in Clare Valley, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Adelaide Hills with coldest sites being selected for Croser Sparkling.
Croser now runs Tapanappa wines in one of the coolest sites in South Australia.
While politicians in Canberra jawbone about climate change and environmental protection, trailblazing winemaker Vanya Cullen has been practising sustainability for years.
Vanya’s parents Kevin and Diana Cullen were pioneers in establishing the Margaret River wine region about 50 years ago along with Tom Cullity of Vasse Felix, Bill Pannell of Moss Wood and a number of others.
Vanya has built on this legacy through her passion for the land and its connection to her wine. Cullen Wines is certified biodynamic (a kind of organics +) as well as being the first carbon neutral winery in Australia.
Cullen’s zeal is to make great wine in harmony with ‘mother earth’ and in rhythm with nature. Admirers range from leading UK wine critic Jancis Robinson to celebrity cook Nigella Lawson.
Gary Farr joined Bannockburn Winery in Geelong in 1978, in what was then virgin wine territory. In 1983 he made his first visit to the Burgundy region of France at vintage time to study their winemaking techniques.
Farr was so fascinated by the differences in approach he went on to spend 12 vintages in Burgundy. Applying what he learnt to the unique terroir of Geelong, Farr has made some of the most sought after pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz in Australia under his own ‘By Farr’ label.
An unrelenting focus on quality – taking low yields from the vineyard and allowing longer fermentations were not decisions that thrill the accountants but make the difference at By Farr.
Ed Carr is the unquestioned king of Australian sparkling wine. He has worked at Hardy’s/Accolade since 1994 overseeing their sparkling wine program.
The Arras range of sparkling wines was one of the first Australian sparkling wines released after longer periods on lees. This reflected Carr’s ambition to make Australian sparkling wines of comparable quality to what is made in Champagne.
The quest to make the best led him to Tasmania which has been the source of all Arras wine since 1998.
His championing of longer bottle ageing and the focus on cool climate Tasmanian fruit has pushed the quality of Australian sparkling wine from the cheap and cheerful to world class.
Concludes next week…
From Selector Magazine