Adelaide-based Patritti family wine company excels with emerging varieties | John Lewis

SUBURBAN SITE: Patritti winemakers James Mungall and Ben Heide have fine credentials with alternative varieties.
SUBURBAN SITE: Patritti winemakers James Mungall and Ben Heide have fine credentials with alternative varieties.

TRINCADEIRA and saperavi are two grape names you probably haven’t seen before on Australian wine labels. 

Now however, thanks to the Adelaide-based Patritti family wine company, drinkers with a yen for something radically different and affordable can sample these two varieties.

Trincadeira is a grape originating in northern Portugal and was one of the earliest varieties established in South Australia.

Records show that in 1862 William Trimmer had plantings of trincadeira in the Marion District, a few kilometres from the present-day Patritti winery and cellar door in suburban Adelaide.

Often known under the synonyms black alicante, black portugal and tinta amarela, the variety was historically used in Australia for fortified wines and Patritti is probably the only producer to make it as a dry red table wine. It sources the grapes from a small 1960s Barossa Valley planting and used them in fortifieds and table red blends before deciding to introduce a straight varietal.

Saperavi is a variety very resistant to the cold and widely planted in Russia and what used to be other parts of the Soviet Union. It’s become part of the Patritti portfolio because in the late 1990s the company employed a winemaker from the former Soviet state of Georgia. After a trip home, the man brought back a bottle of saperavi that so impressed the Patritti folk that they sourced cuttings and commissioned their longest-serving Barossa Valley grower to plant one of Australia’s first saperavi vineyards.

The saperavi and trincadeira boost the company’s impressive credentials with alternative and emerging varieties in Australia and it has just released $22-a-bottle 2014 and 2015 saperavis and 2015 trincadeira along with an $18 Patritti 2017 Adelaide Hills Vermentino. Vermentino is the most common white variety on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica and is significant in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon area and on the Italian island of Sardinia.

The Patritti operation was founded by Giovanni Patritti, who migrated from Italy to South Australia in 1920. Despite speaking little English, he quickly got jobs, including selling ice-cream. In 1926 he established vineyards and a winery-cellar door in Clacton Rd, Dover Gardens. Adelaide urban sprawl swallowed up the vineyards, but the winery and cellar door remain as the only such operations in suburban Adelaide.

Patritti wines are made by Ben Heide and James Mungall, who is a third-generation Patritti family member, and come from its two fine McLaren Vale vineyards and fruit bought from the Barossa and Adelaide Hills growers.



THIS multi-faceted Patritti 2015 Trincadeira is purple-tinted crimson in the glass and has 13.5% alcohol and gamey aromas. The front palate displays juicy, ripe mulberry flavour, the middle palate brings in rhubarb, licorice, mint and vanillin oak elements and the finish has peppery tannins. 

PRICE: $22.

DRINK WITH: lamb koftas.

AGEING: six years.

RATING: 4 stars


THE Patritti 2014 Saperavi is a big 14.5%-alcohol feast with inky purple hues and scents of forest floor and fruitcake. Intense blood plum flavour rolls onto the front palate and cassis, herb, cloves and nutty oak characters integrate on the middle palate. Earthy tannins show at the finish. 

PRICE: $22.

DRINK WITH: osso bucco.

AGEING: eight years.

 RATING: 4.5 stars


WITH green-tinted straw hues and aromatic kiwifruit scents, the Patritti 2017 Vermentino shows zesty gooseberry front-palate flavour. Star anise, lemon curd and gunmetal characters chime in on the middle palate and slatey acid refreshes at the finish. The wines are on and at the Clacton Rd, Dover Gardens, cellar door. 

PRICE: $18.

DRINK WITH: chicken laksa.

AGEING: four years.

RATING: 4.5 stars