John LewisMeet the family behind innovative wine brand Fossil Hill

FORMIDABLE TEAM: The Crossings at their Angullong property. From left, Heidi, Ben, Hatty, Jim and Edwina.BACK 450 million years ago the area that contains Angullong vineyard on the foothills of Orange’s Mount Canobolas was awash by sea and home to some of the earliest forms of marine life.

As the seas retreated they left behind limestone and a rich residue of fossils gradually covered by basalt loam from Canobolas volcano.

Which explains why the Crossing family has called one of its most innovative brands Fossil Hill.

It’s highly appropriate because the fossil sites first discovered in the 1890s are classified as internationally significant – as are the network of limestone caves extending under Crossings’ land and that of neighbouring properties.

Known as the Cleifden caves, they were added to the NSW Heritage Register in 2017.

The caves are not open to the public, although experienced cavers are able to get permits to abseil down into the caverns.

The Fossil Hill range includes familiar grapes like riesling, a shiraz-viognier red and a chardonnay-pinot noir sparkler, but it’s also a fine showcase for alternate varieties, largely of Mediterranean origins.

The Crossings are no “Johnny-come-latelies” with these varieties, planting pinot gris, sangiovese, barbera and viognier 19 years ago.

Their current releases feature the Spanish-origin tempranillo variety and Italian-origin vermentino, sagrantino, barbera and sangiovese – the latter producing a table red and the Rosato rosé – and montepulciano will soon be added to the portfolio.

Angullong had its genesis in 1950 when Bill and Hatty Crossing bought the 1838-hectare Panuara property overlooking the Belubula RiverValley, 40 kilometres from Orange.

They built a successful fodder cropping, Angus cattle, Boer goat and sheep grazing operation. In 1998, with the help of their sons Jim and Ben, they diversified into wine on part of the property.

Bill Crossing died at the age of 77 in 2015 but Hattie remains an active participant in the family business and regularly presides over the cellar door in the beautifully restored bluestone stables next door to the historic Commercial Hotel in the thriving village of Millthorpe, on the outskirts of Orange. Ben’s wife Heidi and Jim’s wife Edwina are also key parts of the Angullong team.

Ben and Jim are joint owners of the wine and grazing operation. With Ben as general manager andJim as vineyard manager.

Angullong winemaking is supervised by wine master Jon Reynolds, well remembered for his days in the Hunter and his Orange Region trail blazing.

WINE REVIEWSSPICY CHERRY BARBERATHISbeautAngullong 2016 Fossil Hill Barberais bright garnet and has 14.5% alcohol and potpourri scents. The front palate shows spicy cherry flavour, the middle palate plum, briar, cloves and savoury oak and the finish minty tannins. It and today’s other wines areatangullong老域名出售.au, theMillthorpecellar doorandwine stores.

PRICE: $26

DRINK WITH:veal scallopine.

AGEING: eight years.

RATING: 5 stars

COOL-TAKE TEMPRANILLOBEN Crossing saysthe vines that produced thisAngullong 2016 Fossil Hill Tempranillohave taken well to Orange’s cool climate. The wine has 14% alcohol, purple hues, berry pastille scents and juicy blackberry front-palate flavour. The middle palate shows Maraschino cherry, peppermint, spice and vanillin oak and the finish ferric tannins.

PRICE: $26.

DRINK WITH:moussaka.

AGEING: six years.

RATING: 4.5 stars

CLONAL SWITCH PAYOFFFROMGrosso clone sangiovese vines grafted in 2011 to the small-bunch and berry Brunello clone, theAngullong 2016 Fossil Hill Sangiovesehas 14.5% alcohol, ruby red hues and herbal scents. The front palate displays juicy mulberry flavour, the middle palate bramble jelly, spearmint, licorice and cedary oak and the finish chalky tannins.

PRICE: $26.

DRINK WITH: lasagne.

AGEING: eight years.

RATING: 4.5 stars