I’ve been lucky to see the wines of Xavier Bizot and Lucy Croser’s Terre à Terre project since the very beginning, snagging a taste of the inaugural Sauv Blanc even before the brand had been launched in 2010.
Flash forward to 2016 and now Xavier & Lucy have a whole suite of wines that extend beyond the original Wrattonbully bottlings to now include a grower Champagne inspired fizz called Daosa, plus their ever-expanding import business Terroir Selections.
Meanwhile, the densely planted Wrattonbully vineyard that kicked everything off now has a name – the Crayères Vineyard, named after the French word for limestone caves – and is now 12 years old.
The wines have evolved in style too, helped along by the fact that Xavier (and his father-in-law Brian Croser) now have what was the Petaluma Tiers winery all to themselves. Expect more wines to be added to the range…
Perhaps the only challenge with the Terre à Terre wines is that they really need time – both for red and white. That and the stylistic evolution has produced some quite different expressions each vintage – clearly plenty of tinkering going on.
Terre à Terre Blanc 2015
From an early vintage in Wrattonbully, this was produced from ripe grapes that are whole bunch pressed and fermented in a new 3000L foudre. It undergoes a very slow 3 month ferment and then put back until older large oak for 5 months. Numbers: pH 3.25 TA 6.7g/L RS 5.82g/L
Gee it’s a hulking wine too, with everything – oak, fruit and alcohol – still coming together. The nose is particularly ripe and pungent nose – pushing into pineapple again this year, with the barrel character placing this into pineapple cream territory. Thick cut, it’s quite a firm, concentrated style, if sullen and sewed up tight, with only alcohol to show on the finish. Clearly taking a lead from white Bordeaux this is a wine of impact and weight, but at the moment a bit blunt and not-so-varietal. Needs 12 months to come together methinks. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.8%, $32. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Terre à Terre Rouge 2014
The first ever Terre à Terre red blend and ‘probably one of the most independent-minded wines of our range’ according to Xavier. It’s a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 28% Shiraz and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, the fruit handpicked and shipped to the Tiers winery for production. Of the components, the Cab Franc went into a single new 4300L foudre (then an older foudre after 12 months), with the Shiraz and Cab Sauv to old oak. Just 750 dozen produced. Numbers: pH 3.54, TA 5.4.
Dark ruby and very bright, it’s a mighty expressive, red fruited wine with some classic Franc beauty. Stylistically it’s closer to a tannic version of a Loire Cab Franc than St Emilion, with a bitter, firmly structured palate of quite translucent red fruit. It’s not an easy wine, per se, but gee it’s an interesting piece and will only grow in bottle – I love the bitter tannic bite, which is sure to come up trumps in a few years time. Worth a look. Best drinking: 2018-2028+. 17.8/20, 92/100+. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? I’d definitely go a few glasses.