Marrying the Italian regions of Veneto and Calabria, Vigna Bottin Wines‘ opening a cellar door is the natural progression in a trajectory of Italian authenticity.
Reminiscent of the vignerons of the North and South of Italy, grape grower/winemaker, Paolo Bottin, alongside partner, Maria, have both metaphorically and physically grown a vineyard that is indeed a slice of Italy in South Australia.
We’ve caught Maria with a voice lost and weary after a long weekend of festivities at Vigna Bottin’s new cellar door.
Despite little to no promotion, Maria tells us that the cellar door welcomed a host of visitors, excited to see their accomplishments come to physical fruition.
And the accomplishments have been aplenty. Their gamble in being one of the first, if not the first, to introduce little known Italian varieties in their purest forms to a South Australian market succeeded in winning over connoisseurs and locals alike.
Firstly, in 2006 at the Alternative Variety wine show in Mildura, their Sangiovese won a trophy in the Australia wide competition. No label and no pre-existing fame. This award confirmed that they should indeed branch out to introducing their label and selling their stock outside of friends and family, and the casual visitor.
Like many, the notion of a family built and operated businesses is one that is prized exceedingly more frequently. However, Vigna Bottin encapsulates this in an inherent manner.
Both Maria and Paolo hail from wine-loving Italian families, with fathers who both have a history in winemaking.
“Paolo’s dad loves white wine, my dad loves red wine,” Maria laughs.
A winemaker and grape grower, Paolo’s skills are attributed to his father, who purchased their first McLaren Vale vineyard in the ’70s.
“As [Paolo] got older he tried a few other jobs but realised how much he loves being outdoors, completed a few vintages in Italy, loved the Italian varieties, and came back and planted the same fruit here,” Maria says.
Paolo stuck to the authentic taste of the Italian varietals which was a risk initially, but a practice that has paid off tremendously.
Falling in love with Sangiovese and Barbera meant that Vigna Bottin’s repertoire of wine was initially, extremely rare in McLaren Vale.
The Mediterranean climate in McLaren Vale is perfect for Vermentino and Fiano. Of which, the former won Vigna Bottin Chairman’s pick at the McLaren Vale wine show. The first white to have ever been picked.
Paolo is also credited with various viticulturist awards, despite not holding a degree.
“He is like a cook that has watched his parents, all throughout the years and he has learned by taste. It has shone through with the wine,” Maria says.
Indeed the quality is in the history. Completing vintages overseas, much of his skills are self taught.
Paolo’s practice has always been heavily geared towards sustainability and organic principles.
“Minimal intervention, minimal sulphites,” Maria says. The latter of which can be debilitating for people who suffer from asthma, namely Paolo.
Tracking plantation and the picking of fruit with the moon’s cycle, Vigna Bottin’s use of organic practices is second nature.
These practices and the rarity of their stock has also produced some interesting mixes. Exclusive to their new cellar door is the Vigna Bottin Barbera alongside a spin-off the popular, Prosecco. The Versecco.
The sparkling Versecco is an interesting mixture of Vermentino and a dash of Fiano, with a ripe citrus marmalade flavour and green melon rind notes.
Said cellar door is located at former Willunga institution, Au Pear restaurant. Since their closure in October last year, Au Pear has only offered their services in functions.
In a meeting that Maria describes as a blessing, Vigna Bottin was given space in Au Pear’s Tuscan style venue.
There’s an undeniable European stroke to the cellar door which fits perfectly with Vigna Bottin’s authentic Italian roots.
“We feel quite blessed, we would go there to eat often so if there’s anywhere in the Vale to choose, it’s this place,” Maria says.
Au Pear, evident from the name, offered French cuisine, but when we ask Maria what to expect from Vigna Bottin, she describes it as an extension of the wine.
Italian cuisine but more so what you’d expect to find at nonna’s table.
The menu, worked on by well-known McLaren Vale cook, Annika, using recipes handed down from Maria and Paolo’s family, is comfort food, homely food.
Annika, who is renowned for her Italian cuisine, will be bringing that to the cellar door alongside her antipasto, which was a huge hit last weekend.
“House made preserves and pickles on the platter, everything is made from scratch, in house and seasonal,” Maria is proud to say.
The meatballs are attributed to Maria’s nonna, Teresa, served with a gorgeous sauce, it embodies scarpetta. For non-Italians, scarpetta is derived from the Italian ritual of mopping the last of your sauce with a piece of bread.
A cacciatore sausage from Maria’s father, which is an amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Italian recipes, is at hand. Also on offer is Veneto sausage from Paolo’s father, an arancini trio, homemade pasta, and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Annika is offering a menu that will change with the seasons.
“It’s a small menu and it’s basic but we want really good and really memorable food,” Maria says.
“We are mindful of keeping costs down, which is why we wouldn’t describe it as a restaurant. We supply the wine and Annika supplies the food.”
The menus and tastings are yet to be finalised but the ethos at Vigna Bottin assures us that there’ll always be something to be had. If bookings become necessitous, there’ll always be platters.
You can find Vigna Bottin Wines‘ cellar door at 192 Main Road, Willunga.