First taste: Terre à Terre DAOSA Blanc de Blancs 2016
Focusing on South Australia’s cooler climes – the Piccadilly Valley (Adelaide Hills’ highest, coolest, wettest sub-region) and Wrattonbully – Terre à Terre’s ‘Fraustralian’ founders are blue-blooded terroirists. Xavier Bizot is descended from Champagne’s Bollinger family. Lucy Croser, is the daughter of Brian Croser of Petaluma, then Tapanappa fame. Unsurprisingly, the couple produce a sparkling wine under their DAOSA (‘Dedicated Artisans of South Australia’) label.
Our style will always be about fruit, mouthfeel and texture
However, although the couple’s Piccadilly Valley fizz undergoes its second fermentation and ages in bottle, followed by disgorgement and dosage, they are not gunning for a traditional Champagne style.
When I interviewed Bizot for a recent Decanter feature (here), he contended trying to emulate Champagne by harvesting too early does not work, because unripe fruit produces “lean and green wines, devoid of any of the pleasures that a glass of good Champagne gives.”
Rather, given Adelaide Hills’ extra sunshine hours and different soils, he asserts “[O]ur style will always be about fruit, mouthfeel and texture, which is why all our base wines undergo malolactic fermentation.”
First made in 2009, Terre à Terre DAOSA Blanc de Blancs hails from a single vineyard (the Bizot Vineyard) in Summertown. It was planted in 1995/96 by Brian Croser on behalf of Bizot’s late father, Christian, (Bollinger’s 6th President).
With table Chardonnay and sparkling in mind, Croser planted clones I10V1, 96, 277, 95, 76 on a North-North East facing slope, rising to 550m.
The soils are clay over complex layered shale, slate and sandstone geology. “Worlds apart,” exclaimed Bizot, from Champagne’s chalk.
The landscape of Piccadilly Valley is completely different too. Bizot contrasts the Champagne region’s vineyard monoculture with Piccadilly Valley’s “very biodiverse ecosystem with scrubs, orchards, pastures, horticulture and small vineyards (blocks of 10ha maximum).”
The fruit from the Bizot Vineyard’s 20 year-old relatively close-planted vines makes for a powerful, approachable style. Muscular even.
Lengthy ageing on lees – more than 42 months in bottle
Barrel-fermenting and ageing the base wine for 10 months in old 600l barrels together with lees stirring brings structure and savoury complexity to the stone fruit. Lengthy ageing on lees for more than 42 months in bottle brings biscuity autolytic notes.
Terre à Terre DAOSA Blanc de Blancs 2015 bagged a Platinum medal at Decanter World Wine Awards. You can find my notes on that vintage (and the couple’s delightful Pinot Noir-dominated Non-Vintage sparkling wine and Wrattonbully and Adelaide Hills still releases) here.
The follow on 2016 vintage is equally powerful, characterful and intense. It is fresh and well-structured too, despite the much higher sunshine hours in 2016 (1,539 degree days versus the long-term average of 1,172 degree days during the growing season and 1,173 degree days in 2015).
Whilst the 2016 vintage was much warmer and drier than average, fortunately, there were very few days above 30 degrees during the ripening season.
Terre à Terre DAOSA Blanc de Blancs 2016 (Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills)
Exclusively sourced from the Bizot vineyard, the Chardonnay was hand-harvested on 1st March 2016, then whole bunch pressed, retaining only 487.5l per tonne of fruit. DAOSA Blanc de Blancs 2016 – the 6th release – reveals a muscular core of perfumed white peach and nectarine to nose and palate. Rich, with plenty of savoury and textural nuance, it has impressive palate presence and length, with bacon fat (a distinctive smokiness), vanilla bean, toast and biscuit to the fruit. With crushed apricot kernel too, the stone fruit runs deep! Wed to a firm backbone of acidity, whilst weighty, it is well-focused, with a persistent bead and clean, mineral (ozone) finish. Disgorged September 2020; dosage of 6g/l, 12.9%
In these earlier posts, I report on a visit to Terre à Terre’s Wrattonbully Crayères Vineyard and a tasting of the Wrattonbully range.