Quite literally tucked away on a quiet street in suburban Adelaide, Patritti is an historic winery and cellar door. Established in 1926, it’s the last remaining 100% family owned urban winery in South Australia. The family own two exceptional vineyards in the beautiful McLaren Vale and craft their most exclusive red wines from these vines. They also produce a range of traditional and alternative varietal wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.
Third generation winemaker, James Mungall joined Patritti in the early 2000s, working alongside his uncles before taking over the winemaking in 2004. In 2006, James’ friend and oenology classmate, Ben Heide joined Patritti and together they have worked side by side to add depth and diversity to Patritti’s range of wines.
Patritti has been awarded the coveted red five-star winery status by wine icon, James Halliday, and maintains this ranking by receiving over 90 points for multiple wines each year. Consecutive vintages of Patritti’s flagship wine, JPB Single Vineyard Shiraz, which lauds the arrival of founder, Giovanni Patritti in 1926, have been rated an impressive 97 points by Halliday.
Tell me your story – what got you involved in wine making?
James Mungall, Winemaker & General Manager – My grandfather, Giovanni Patritti established the winery in 1926, making wine for other European immigrants. When he passed away in 1968 the winemaking duties were handed down to my three uncles and mother, Ines. I officially joined Patritti in 2001 and took over the winemaking legacy in 2004. The business has always been a family affair. I wasn’t forced into it; I just grew up around the winery and never thought of doing anything else. It means a lot to me, carrying on the business my grandfather started. When my Nonno came from Italy, he leased then purchased a piece of dirt. It is the same dirt we are still making wine from and using the original cellar 92 years later.
Ben Heide, Winemaker – I met James when we were studying oenology together at university and joined Patritti as a cellarhand. After I graduated, I decided to get some experience at another winery in McLaren Vale, but it was a fairly short stint. As the second generation retired, Patritti needed a second winemaker to work with James, so in 2006 I was asked to come back and we’ve been working together ever since.
In our post show visitor survey from 2017’s shows, McLaren Vale was identified as one of the visitor’s favourite wine regions. What do you think makes McLaren Vale so special?
For us it’s the region’s ability to produce a range of different varieties to a really high standard. When visitors come to McLaren Vale, they won’t taste the same line-up of wines at every cellar door. Sure, you’ll see Shiraz and Grenache but also alternatives like Vermentino, Fiano and Mencia. McLaren Vale is a great place for wine enthusiasts to discover their new favourite variety.
What’s your favourite wine from your own range that you’d recommend our visitors trying at the Good Food & Wine Show?
Section 181 Grenache. The family planted the vineyard in Tatachilla in the 1960s so the vines are old and completely unirrigated making the wine really deep and rich. It won the Trophy for McLaren Vale Grenache at last year’s International Wine Challenge in the UK. McLaren Vale was the only Australian region to be awarded a trophy for Grenache at the show, so we think that makes ours the best Grenache in Australia!
Tell us 1 thing that makes your own wines so special?
When you ask us about our wines we usually start off by telling you about the vineyard and why the grape variety is growing where it is. Winemaking starts when the vines are planted, and if the region, soil or climate isn’t right for the grapes you’re trying to grow, then no matter what we do as winemakers, the wine will never be great. We’re selective about vineyards and varieties, but we make great wine as a result.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, (hard one, we know!) what would that be and what food would you pair it with?
Grenache! It can be punchy and bold, smooth and subtle, and anywhere in between. It’s diversity makes it a food friendly wine, but our Italian heritage means we should probably say pizza, pasta or a big antipasto platter with loads of cured meats.
What wine from another McLaren Vale Winery other than your own would you recommend visitors trying? Any hidden gems this year?
Shingleback Red Knot GSM. The 2016 vintage was winning awards all over the place so it’ll be great to see the 2017 back it up as it was another good vintage.
For visitors planning a trip to the McLaren Vale, what would you recommend them including in their itinerary of what not to miss?
Start with a tasting at Patritti’s historic suburban winery and cellar door, then we recommend a visit to the Willunga Farmer’s market to sample some great local produce, the Victory Hotel for drinks and food with a view, and catapulting melons at Wirra Wirra. And when you see a wine you’ve never heard of, taste it; cellar door staff love talking about the alternative varieties they have on their list.
The wines that you will showcase at the Good Food & Wine Show are:
2017 Merchant Pinot Grigio
2017 Merchant Sauvignon Blanc
2016 Merchant Shiraz
2016 Merchant Cabernet Sauvignon
2015 Section 181 Grenache
2016 JPB Limited Release Shiraz