In 1999, after years of working with his father in the family potato-growing business, Frank Mitolo was introduced to one of Australia’s rising stars of winemaking, Ben Glaetzer. A five-hour discussion over dinner followed, during which they dreamt of making the ultimate expression of McLaren Vale’s rich provenance of soils and the creation of Mitolo Wines.
Mitolo shares their story here as part of a series profiling some of the wineries participating in the 2016 Cellar Door Festival, held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from February 26 to 28.
Our story …
“Mitolo Wines is set within the McLaren Vale wine region. With its rolling hills, proximity to the seaside, and ancient, yet fertile soils, McLaren Vale reminds me in many ways of the coastal towns of my parents’ Italian homeland, Abruzzo.
“We source our grapes from an old friend of my father’s, Don Lopresti, an Italian migrant of the 1950s. Don, along with his two sons Joe and Michael, have an affinity with their land, and through simple practices and hard work produce fruit of the highest quality. The fruit is the essence of Mitolo, with a depth of flavour garnered from heavy clay soils, yet freshness thanks to the gentle afternoon sea breeze that tempers the hot summer sun.
“Ben and I work closely with the Lopresti’s, picking the grapes when they are ‘flavour ripe’, not simply at the right baume level. We also take a very ‘hands-off’ approach in the winery, fermenting cool to retain purity, and using a range of barrel coopers to generate complexity, yet respect and enhance the fruit.
“The first wine we produced, the 2000 GAM Shiraz, was named after my children Gemma, Alex and Marco. Since then another 10 wines have been added to the range, each with its own distinct personality and story.
“My Italian heritage runs strongly through the range: we use the Italian varietals Vermentino and Sangiovese and the Italian appassimento technique of drying fruit to make the Jester Cabernet and Serpico wine. But perhaps most importantly of all, Mitolo wines are made to suit the Italian foods of my homeland.
“Every new vintage of Mitolo is a reminder of my viticultural lineage and my parents’ humble beginnings. The Mitolo business meetings are still held around the kitchen table over Sunday lunch. At the heart of it all, in the wine style, in the people, is the motto that my father brought with him from Abruzzo – forte a gentile: strong and gentle.”
What we do best …
“McLaren Vale is renowned for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, and is home to some of the oldest vines in Australia. When Ben and I decided to begin our new venture 15 years ago we were particularly interested in focusing on Shiraz and achieving an impressive style that is expressive of site in McLaren Vale. Shiraz is our core focus, followed by the unique appassimento style of Cabernet Sauvignon.”
What our place means to us …
“Terroir really defines our wines, and enables us to produce wines that are unique and expressive of place. Our vineyards are located in the very southern and slightly cooler end of the McLaren Vale region, sandwiched between the ocean and the nearby hills, this sub-region is known as the ‘Clay Plains of Aldinga’ by the locals.
“The ocean is instrumental in providing cool breezes that temper the warm summer days, whilst the soils of heavy, grey loams mixed with black Biscay clay overlying ancient Ngaltinga formation clay were formed one million years ago in the Pleistocene age. This combination gives us our style of generosity back by refreshing acidity and savoury, long tannins.”
What we will bring to the Cellar Door Fest …
“We will be bringing a little bit of McLaren Vale mixed with a little bit of our Italian heritage. We set up our space a little differently and bring in our own tasting bench and chairs to bring the brand and tasting experience to life, and make the experience more intimate.”
Why we take part …
“The Cellar Door Fest is not only a great opportunity to introduce the brand to new customers, but to reconnect with existing customers,too.
“We are in the midst of developing our first cellar door in McLaren Vale so the opportunity to show our wines at events like the Cellar Door Wine Fest are really important for us. Not only are we promoting our brand but our region, too, and we are having fun whilst doing it.”
The Mitolo Wines team will join 180 other South Australian food and wine producers at the 2016 Cellar Door Fest, which runs from February 26 to 28 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, where they will have some of their wines available for tasting and purchase.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.