In 1978 Brian Croser selected the Piccadilly Valley in the centre of the Adelaide Hills as the best terroir to grow Chardonnay for Petaluma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Croser sparkling wine. The first vineyard planted in the Adelaide Hills since the 19th century, The Tiers Vineyard is in the centre of the Piccadilly Valley at 450 metres elevation next to the Tapanappa Winery and the Croser family home.
Fans of Tapanappa Wines will be familiar with their Foggy Hill Vineyard. Planted in 2003, it sits at one of the highest points on the Fleurieu Peninsula, and produces excellent Pinot Noir, that is highly sought after each vintage.
After observing this particular vineyard for the last 14 years, winemaker Brian Croser noticed a one-hectare strip of vines that consistently produced the best wines. He called this section: DEFINITUS.
The DEFINITUS strip is a sub ridge running south to north down the hill in the centre of the oldest block, breaking ever so slightly to the east and the west. It exists because the underlying ferruginous sandstone comes closest to the surface along this ridge, the colluvium formed is full of rock fragments and the soils are slightly shallower.
2017 was a near perfect vintage, preceded by a soil filling wet winter and beginning with a very cool spring which delayed each subsequent step of the crop’s development. After flowering we thinned the over-abundant crop by 50%. Despite the cool start 2017 ended slightly warmer than average and we hand harvested the 14- year-old DEFINITUS strip separately for the first time on the 8th of April, the latest harvest ever at Foggy Hill. The heat summation for the 7 month growing season in 2017 was 1400°C days against the 10 year average of 1210°C days.
As with the rest of Foggy Hill Pinot Noir in 2017, 30% of the DEFINITUS strip was harvested into trays and chilled to 2°C as whole bunches in a cold room. This 30% chilled whole fruit was distributed over the 0.85 tonne fermentation tubs and the rest of the fruit was destemmed, lightly crushed and chilled to 2°C onto the top of the whole fruit. After a 4-day cold maceration each tub was seeded with our own yeast strain and hand plunged daily until fermentation finished 12 days later. The fermented wine was left in contact with the skins for a further 5 days and then pressed straight to French oak barriques, 30% new. The DEFINITUS Pinot Noir finished malo-lactic fermentation in barrique, followed by a small SO2 addition to each barrique where it stayed for the next 9 months.
The 2017 DEFINITUS is of moderate colour intensity and crimson hue. The aromas and flavours are delicate and ethereal with violet ad roses floral, ripe strawberries and dark fruits and an earthy terroir nuance. The palate structure sets DEFINITUS apart. The texture is silky and creamy but the finishing tannins are firm and sandy. DEFINITUS is a pure expression of a unique terroir and will benefit from a decade or longer of bottle age.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
A 500-dozen make from the central blocks of the vineyard. In ’17 Foggy Hill had the growing season and vintage it craved. In terms of varietal character, texture, structure, balance and length the wine can’t be faulted. It is by some distance the best Foggy Hill pinot noir made to date. What will the ensuing vintages provide?
I like the floral violets and roses with charcoal and a sweet array of silky, plush and very even-paced fruit. Ripe red cherries and boysenberries, and plush, ribbon-like tannins. Things are more groomed, fluid and succinct with composed and elegantly powerful fruit at just 14 years of age. This is a very smooth, supple, dense yet light pinot with red berries. Assertive tannins that are still silky and ribbon-like. Plush, too.
This is smoky and savoury, scented with dried herb and dried flowers like the regular Foggy Hill, but with a little more density, flesh and concentration. Very savoury and quite delicious, the finish long and harmonious.