Legit Wines

Location: Victoria / Western Australia
Who: Mike & Callum Garland
Web: fervorwines.com.au

I’ve worked with Mike Garland for nearly a decade – and when he started ‘The Garland Project’ with son Callum I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work together again. It would be quite easy to make a case for Mike being WA’s best winemaker – he’s won the biggest awards at the biggest wine shows, in some years going to back to back trophies for best wine. All this done with no ego. That’s Legit! Mikes breadth of winemaking prowess – from funky whole bunch, to classic Burgundian & Germanic styles, is unsurpassed. Fervor wines by The Garland Project is one of the most exciting winemaking ventures of 2022!

In Mike’s words: “We’ve been making cool climate wines since 1996, entirely in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. Over 25 years in the Great Southern has allowed me to form some very close relationships with some of the best small vineyards in the region and it was time to have some fun. My son Callum has followed me into the winemaking world, from the Great Southern, to the Rhone, to Victoria. Our aim with Fervor is to draw connections from all the great people we’ve met during our journey – have some fun and make some really great wines. We will be making an eclectic range of cool climate classics as well as some interesting takes on what we love to drink“

Location: Western Australia
Who: Skigh McManus & Jared Strike
Web: skighwine.com.au

If you conjure up images of the Margaret River lifestyle: effortlessly cool, laidback, down to earth, all that stuff – then put it in a bottle, that’s Skigh Wines. The wines are legit through and through – organically farmed vineyards, spontaneous ferments, minimal additions, lofi but modern. These are wines that are impossible not to like, made by dudes who are impossible not to like.

In Skigh’s words: “With all the wines we make, we’re looking for balance and drinkability in our
customers glass. Natural ferments using native yeasts, no additions where pragmatic, natural acidity and minimal sulphur at bottling, leads to wines that have intensity and are wildly drinkable while still maintaining that sense of place”

Location: Western Australia
Who: Terry Chellappah & Ness Carson
Web: tnhy-wine.com

TC is a real one, a total industry vet. I’ve been lucky enough in recent years to travel the world with him selling wine, however predating this not only did he set up some historic Perth venues, he played rock’n’roll alongside of Australia’s best bands. Legit. Terry’s wines and palate are internationally minded. We may sleep on them in Australia, but some of TC’s wines are the biggest and most recognized Aussie wines in the Nordic and Asian markets. When you spend your days drinking Burgundy & Mosel, you don’t aspire to make the status quo.

In Terry’s words: “I have always taken a lighthearted approach to wine, wine marketing and everything that goes with it. As glorious as some wines can be, they are ultimately libations that give us great joy and should be consumed as such. You can pass yourself going faster the other way if you take it too seriously. However there comes a time to sit back, glass in hand and ruminate over the journey and contemplate the horizon. The last 4 decades has been a whirlwind journey sustained by those victuals. The next 10 decades will be universally defining for us all. Perhaps it’s time to take an ever so slightly more focused view”

Location: Victoria
Who: James Scarcebook
Web: vinointrepido.com.au

Vino Intrepido’s wines were a no brainer for the Legit Wine Co portfolio and were one of the very first wineries to make the cut. Not only does James Scarcebrook have a cool first name – his wines are the very definition of Legit; made with an old world authenticity and displaying sense of place. James draws on his significant experience both as a wine retailer and wholesaler, and also as a travelling winemaker in Italy to explore the possibilities of Italian wine varieties grown in selected vineyards around Victoria.

Vino Intrepido was a 2021 Young Gun of Wine Finalist, and listed in Huon Hookes ‘Top Wineries of Australia 2021’

In James’ words: “In the winery my object is to test my theories of how better to capture the essence of
drinkability and a sense of place, and learning from my experiences. A minimal approach to me means to limit techniques only to what is necessary, intervening only when it will benefit the final product. Spontaneous fermentations are always preferred, and sulphur addition is kept to a minimum. Only mature oak barrels are used, and as I grow my aim is to source larger barrels where I can”

Location: Yarra Valley, VIC
Who: Rod Micallef & Caroline Mooney
Web: zonzo.com.au

Zonzo were an early addition to the Legit portfolio, I was drawn in by owner/chef Rod Micallef’s entrepreneurial chutzpah and creativity. It’s a young winery, making all the right moves – conversion to 100% sustainability, wine styles that push boundaries, finest attention to packaging details. It’s clear that this is a winery to watch and we want in at ground level, Legit!

In Rod’s words: “The evolution of Zonzo wines was a natural progression for my family, our love of food and celebrating with family was missing one element – wine. We recruited renowned Yarra Valley winemaker Caroline Mooney as head Winemaker to bring the project to life and assist with new urban winery design. Our vineyard originally planted in 1997 has been rejuvenated with new Italian varieties introduced to see the future sustainability of the Zonzo wine label, with plans to expand it further in the future”

Location: Barossa, SA
Who: Marco Cirilo
Web: cirilloestatewines.com.au

If you told Marco Cirillo he wasn’t legit, he’d probably make you into salsiccia. Not because
he’s Jeffrey Dahma, but because he’s about the most legit winemaker out there. 9th generation
Italian winemaker who happens to be custodian to one of Australia oldest and most prized vineyards. I’ve known Marco for well over a decade and watched these wines get better and better each year, and am humbled to have them join the Legit Wine Co portfolio.

Marco’s wine are (and always have been) made with minimal intervention and additions, with lots of whole bunch and carbonic influences. However, you won’t catch him using said buzzwords!

In Marco’s words: ““I am a viticulturist first and foremost who makes wine from that vineyard. If you grow it well, it makes itself comfortably without manipulation, though in a way I intervene constantly, because I’m looking, I’m smelling, I’m tasting, I’m touching … I use natural yeast from the vineyard, and I don’t filter our wines, but that’s what’s happened for thousands of years, so it’s not new. We make wine our way. I’ve never made wine for a market or a scene or a movement. This is what we do, this is how I’ll continue to do things”

Location: Western Australia
Who: Paul Hoffman & Bree Lavell
Web: swanvalleywines.com.au

In an industry that’s full of buzzwords and trends, its easy to be caught up in it all. A core value at Legit Wine Co is that our partners are the real deal. Enter SVW. This natural producer is the definition of a legit producer. These are wines made with grapes and nothing else. Organic (or transitioning) vineyards, natural ferments, zero adds. And Paul’s been at it a minute, one of the first producers in the valley making natural wines, and custodian to many of the oldest plantings in the region.  

In Pauls’ words: “Drawing from our combined studies of nature, especially botany, ecology, naturopathy and viticulture, our focus is on sourcing the highest quality, old-vine material available. We are custodian of some of the oldest vines in Western Australia and are one of the only wineries to share a name with the underlying Sub Regional Geographic Indicator. It was only appropriate that we commit to producing zero addition, natural wines, representing the best of our terroir and the Swan Valley’s bio-cultural diversity. Our philosophy is to grow grapes and make wine as naturally as possible and to preserve the unique traditions forged by indigenous and migrant peoples”

Location: McLaren Vale
Who: Alan Varney
Web: varneywines.com.au

A chance meeting in McLaren Vale lead to Legit Wines being the first (and currently only) distributor to be trusted to bring these micro production and highly praised wines to the trade. Alan hails from the USA and has completed vintages on both the east and west of the US, as well as Portugal. It was however a 10-year stint as a senior winemaker at d’Arenberg where Alan really cut his teeth. Through this role Alan formed relationships with some of the most sort after growers in McLaren, Adelaide Hills & Langhorne – making way for the age old equation of killer winemaker + killer fruit = killer wines. One plus one equals four if you will, a legit equation for success!

In Alan’s words: “My winemaking approach is traditional yet sensitive. I am not afraid to step out of the box and go with my intuition. I utilise whole bunch and/or whole berry addition, extended cold soaks, indigenous yeast, submerged cap, foot treading, and extended as well as carbonic maceration – whatever the fruit calls for really. I only use old seasoned oak with no fining or filtration. I make my wines out of a new, environmentally sensitive winery I built alongside my wife Kathrin’s restaurant at Victor’s Place, located at the Gateway to McLaren Vale overlooking the beautiful rolling hills of the Onkaparinga Gorge

Location: Riverland, SA
Who: Marcus Radny
Web: gonzovino.com

Marcus Radny combines two things close to my heart – banging minimal intervention wines, with strong environmental & philanthropic practices. The casks have upwards of 85% less carbon footprint than traditional packaging, fruit sources are from sustainable vineyards, and 5% of all revenue (not just profit) goes to chosen charities. Legit. Marcus has a long history in hospo, including a stint as sommelier at Perth’s own Must Wine Bar in its heyday.  

In Marcus’ words: “Gonzo Vino was born out of trying to do something that was tongue-in-cheek, a bit irreverent, kind of funny, but at the same time it has this undercurrent of seriousness about it where the wine’s good, the fruit’s good, it’s a good vineyard and it’s well-made, too. The wine’s delicious and it’s got a mass appeal to it for a lot of people, but I kind of want people to not take it too seriously, either”

Location: Mount Barker
Who: Gabe Tan
Web: ohkelawines.com.au

I’ve known Gabe for almost two decades, in fact his coffee’s fueled many of my hospo years. Aside from being a dear friend, Gabe is one of WA’s top authorities on coffee working as both a roaster and show judge with his ‘Q Grader’ (think master of wine, but for coffee!) certifications. Given his finely tuned sensory skills, its no wonder that Gabe brings a unique and refreshing approach to his wine making – crafting wines by feel and flavour, with minimal additions and great respect for the fruit.  

In Gabe’s words: “A sense of adventure and experimentation, harnessed by the absolute pursuit of flavour and the need to allow the wines to speak for themselves with minimal intervention in the winery. Natural ferments, zero additions, nothing taken out, always unfiltered and unfined and only the tiniest amount of sulphur at bottling is how we like to do things. I strive to make exciting wines that are tasty and are highly approachable”

Location: Gippsland, VIC
Who: Neil Prentice
Web: moondarra.com.au

Neil Prentice is one of Australia’s true wine identities. Part viticulture maverick, part scallywag (often seen instigating the dance floor at PinotPalooza), he has been at the forefront of biodynamics and Pinot production in Australia since the early 90’s. Growing up as a sommelier in the 80’s he developed an obsession for Burgundy, leading him to (in 1991)  plant and farm Pinot Noir biodynamically on the family farm Walhalla, Gippsland. I’ve been a huge fan of these Pinot’s for many years and am humbled to bring them to the Perth trade, legit.

Neil’s wine styles have been heavily influenced by his original consultant wine makers: controversial Lebanese born Burgundy consultant Guy Accad, and Bruce Dowding who worked many vintages at J.F.Mugnier. Many of the techniques used are unique, and the resulting wines are unmistakably Moondarra, or as Neil call’s it “Pinot Noir’s with funkosite”   

In Neil’s words: “I was a wine waiter,  only because I’d never even heard what a sommelier was. People would ask me if I was a sommelier, and I’d have to explain that I didn’t have a smart enough haircut, or a beard, so I was just a wine guy. I picked up winegrowing really naturally, I did a lot of reading, and learnt a lot through that, but it always felt like a really natural thing for me to do. I don’t do biodynamics for any sort of altruistic reasons, it’s simply a result of my love of Burgundy. All those vineyards, at that stage, were switching over to BD, and I thought that if I’m trying to make the best wine I can, I need to be growing grapes that way”

Location: East St Kilda, VIC
Who: Nelly & Kaiya
Web: instagram.com/rebelrebelzero

RebelRebelZero is a zero alcohol, sparkling alternative. A joint venture between tattooist/artist Kaiya de Boers (@dankmummink) and Moondarra’s Nelly Prentice (his friends call him ‘Nelly’ you can call him Neil.

A brilliantly balanced Blanc de Blanc sparkling with nectarine, sourdough and citrus nuances. An ince (5G/L) of honey grown in Sandringham by Lucy Allinson provides an interesting counterpoint to the fresh Granny Smith crunch.

Kaiya’s work adorns both the label and Nelly. Please don’t encourage him to show you.

Location: Yarra Valley, VIC
Who: Rod Micallef
Web: zoncello.com.au

Zoncello is a new and groundbreaking addition to the Zonzo portfolio, and a world first of its kind. Rod has used his own recipe to craft a premium Limoncello using 100% local ingredients – Local organic unwaxed lemons, neutral spirit distilled from Zonzo’s grape pomace, rainwater harvested onsite, and, for the Spritz – Zonzo’s own Prosecco di Aria.  

In Rod’s words:The first time I tried limoncello was in my early 20’s, which I helped make with my friend and his father. I keenly learned the recipe, and have kept making it ever since at home for my loved ones. We make the product during winter time (which is generally our quietest period), and then it’s ready for all of the sun-drenched aperitivo hours of spring and summer. Great things take time, and that’s why limoncello is so special. It is a labour of love and requires patience to produce really well, but it’s definitely always worth the wait when you get to the taste-testing stage.