Issue #127, August 2020

Introducing our new partnership
with the two Bens


Ben Mullen + Ben Hine
are Mulline Vintners


Mulline has been established for two years now. What inspired you to create Mulline and how far has the business come since 2018?

Mulline was something that I wanted to do from when I started in the wine industry. But I knew that I wanted to travel and make wine at some of the best producers in Australia and do a few international harvests to learn and taste more to figure out exactly what I wanted my wines to look like.  When I landed in Geelong and did my first harvest there in 2017, I knew it was the right place for me to produce the style with the varieties I wanted to work with. At the end of 2018 both Ben and I were then in a position where we could start Mulline and move forward to produce our first 700 dozen for the first release with the 2019 vintage.

Mulline has come so far in such a short time frame since the wines were released at the start of 2020. We have been very lucky how people have taken to the wines and understanding exactly what we have tried to achieve with the style, branding and how we want the brand to be placed in the scope of Australian wine. It’s a very exciting time, and this has meant we have been able to grow both our ranges of wines and implement new vineyards and varieties into the fold for 2020.   

Did you start up with a clear idea of what the brand would be?  What are you most enjoying (or finding most tricky…) about working on your own project?

The brand grew over time from when Ben and I started talking about it, to getting the brand design produced.  I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the labels to look like. I wanted to commission a local Geelong artist to do a painting for us to then use different components of the painting for the labels. I had been a fan of the artist Amy Wright (Instagram @amywrightstudios) for quite a long time and she was really keen to get on board and produce the painting.  Each label has its own identity for that vineyard and variety it connects to, but they all connect.

You’ve worked at some of the finest addresses around Australia, including Leeuwin Estate, Torbreck and Yarra Yering. How has your previous experience influenced the wines you are making at Mulline?

I think the wines I made reflect every winery I have worked at. I have worked with some amazing winemakers, who each make wine very differently for their brands.  The similarities that they all have is they focus on showing site and regionality in their wines, which is what I strive to show in my wines.


You grew up in the Barossa, did you ever consider winemaking on your home turf?

I worked in the Barossa in my early career. Being where I was from, and my first grown up job in wine, there was always that underlying thought in my mind that I would make wine there.  But as I started to branch out, travel and taste more, that changed.  I did my first harvest with Pinot Noir at Domaine Dujac and that changed my mind completely on what varieties and styles of wine I wanted to make.  So that’s when I left and focused on learning to make cooler climate region wines and focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  I will always have Shiraz/Syrah in my blood and love making those wines (and they have been the most rewarded wines I have made in my career so far!)

Why did you choose to base yourself in the Geelong region?  What makes this such a special place to make wine?

Geelong was the first region in Victoria to plant grape vines, but after Phylloxera hit there wasn’t any replanting until the late 70s/early 80s and then the majority of the vines were planted in the 90s. It has a relatively small amount of vineyard planted, but the majority of the new plantings are situated where the original plantings were. This is exciting because it showcases some of the best sites in Victoria – especially since the early settlers were planting vineyards in these little pockets.  Connecting this and the vast separation of the sub-regions it makes for such interesting wines. 

Your dedication to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices is clear to see, how much of an impact do you believe this has on your finished wines?

I think it all impacts on the finished wine. Any positive change to sustainability will benefit the quality of the wines.  We follow all these practices in our day to day lives, not just with our winemaking so it is a very important part of our business.  Doing the right thing will keep our business moving forward the right way but will also help future generations.

You’ve hinted at growing your own grapes for Mulline. What will you plant? Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to experimenting with?

This is something we are looking into at the moment so it’s very early stages but an exciting one.  We would definitely be planting more Pinot Noir and Syrah, but would love to look into some Pinot Meunier, Aligoté and some aromatic whites. Of course, all dependant on site but something that we can build on for the future of Mulline.

The labels on your wines are beautiful, what inspired these?

The labels and branding were very much dependant on making sure we had the right artist to produce a beautiful painting that we felt would showcase our wines in the best way. Fresh, vibrant but also technical and complex. Amy was perfect for this, and this shows in how amazing her artwork is.


We are really excited to introduce your wines here in the UK.  Could you please tell us about each wine?

The first 4 Single Vineyard wines are really exciting expressions of these vineyards. Geelong is such a large region split into 3 sub-regions and this shows within the styles of wines within the range.  And this will be increased in the 2020 release.


2019 Bannockburn Fumé Blanc

100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Bannockburn Vineyard in the Moorabool Valley. This is made from vines planted in 1996 and is my take on the more textural, complex style of Sauvignon Blanc. I love this variety for is versatility and using 30% new Austrian Oak and full solids gives mouthfeel, richness and some beautiful lift of guava, lemongrass and spices. This is a wine that I love to show people and change their mind on the variety.


2019 Portarlington Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay from the Nurringa Park Vineyard on the Bellarine Peninsula.  This beautiful site is situated right on the water overlooking Corio Bay. Exactly due north is the Melbourne CBD.  These come from a vineyard planted in 1994. The wine has 20% new French oak, full solids, cool natural ferment and no malolactic fermentation to keep freshness and line and length to the wine.  Grapefruit pith, sea spray and an undercurrent of almond is the main focus of this wine. My recommendation is to drink this wine closer to room temperature, which will reveal more.


2019 Sutherlands Creek Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir from the old Strathmore Vineyard in the Moorabool Valley, just over the river from the Bannockburn Vineyard.  This is a condensed, low trellis site called the ‘French Block,’ made up of a multitude of clones, predominately MV6. This is more of a medium weight, tightly wound style. 30% Whole Bunches and 20% new oak, it is definitely fruit driven, cherries, red currants and Chinese Five Spice, but tightly wound, which is much a showcase of this site. Always makes lighter hued, tightly wound wines, with a lot of complexity and texture – which will be sure to show more once the wine has been cellared for a few years.


2019 Bannockburn Syrah

100% Syrah from the Bannockburn Vineyard in the Moorabool Valley.  25% Whole Bunch and 20% new oak for only 9 months.  It’s the PT23 clone, which is the most widely planted in Geelong. Long bunches, smaller berries. We see ripening happen really slowly due to our cool nights, and nice warm days, so we get beautiful fruit expression and amazing tannin at lower sugar levels. The wine shows purple fruits, spice and some gamey-meaty complexity.  This is exactly how I love to drink Syrah. Perfumed, spicy, exotic and medium bodied on the palate but doesn’t lack any definition of fruit or weight. A very special site and shows how well Syrah does in our region. 


We described your Bannockburn Fumé Blanc as an absolute showstopper. Could you tell us what makes it so special?

It’s one of my favourite wines I have ever made – and exactly the style of Sauvignon I wanted to make.  It’s textural, fresh, vibrant and has some nice phenolic and tension which showcases the complexity of this variety. It’s made with an old Bordeaux clone, which in Geelong, on the rich old limestone soils where this vineyard is situated, holds acid really well.  It has a lot more citrus pith, lemongrass, tropical feijoa and beautiful minerality.  The style also works so well with food and will be even better with a few years in the cellar.  It’s such an exciting wine which I was so glad to be able to achieve. 

Do you have a favourite wine or is it a bit like asking for your favourite child?

Such a hard question!  I do think the Fumé Blanc is my favourite.  It’s the one Ben and I drink the most of. I think as a winemaker you have a favourite child from when you see the fruit on the vine, through making it and then into bottle. I also love the fact that this wine surprises people.  It is one which people are most reluctant to try, but more often than not they love it. 

When it’s time to put your feet up and celebrate a little, what is your dream dish and which wine would you have with it?

This is a harder question! We love cooking and eating out (which we haven’t been able to do in a very long time!) So whenever we do go out, or cook, we love to do this with friends and have honest, delicious food and drink great wine.  One of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne is called Tipo 00. It has the best pasta in the city.  Their Spaghettini, lakes entrance red mullet, saffron and fennel with a glass (bottle) of Chardonnay is always a winner.

What does a talented winemaker hide in his own cellar? Which wines do you enjoy on the quiet?

My cellar is made up of such a diverse range of wines. These range from Burgundy to Rhône red (Côte Rôtie/Saint-Joseph) to German and Alsatian whites and the traditional labels from Australia. We drink a lot of young Aussie reds as that is an important style at the moment and great for mid-week drinking. We like to drink far and wide and try as many different styles as we can.

We envisage you get little time to rest your feet. But when it is downtime, what does rest time mean to you?

Rest time doesn’t come often for us, but we love getting out with our dogs (Louis and Harri) and exploring Victoria. Travel is also a big part of our lives, so when we are able, we love to get away.  Unfortunately, like everyone else in the world this hasn’t happened this year, even though it was planned, so we are now looking to do this in 2021!

What would you say to new customers in order to introduce and encourage them to discover your wines?

It is really exciting for us to have our wines in the UK and being represented by The Vinorium.  I want people that are willing to discover our wines to go into them with open eyes, give the wines time in the glass as they build and change over time.  They are fresh, vibrant styles but show a lot of complexity, and following this you will see all the tension and texture I am trying to build in the wines.  And of course, they are super delicious!!  Being the first release, we are really excited to see where these wines and the brand will go.  People who can get their hands on these first releases should put a few bottles of each down in the cellar and try them again in five years’ time.  A big focus for me is to showcase Geelong and our varying sub-regions, and I hope that these wines will give people a clear indication of what our amazing region can produce.


2019 Sutherlands Creek Pinot Noir

97++ / 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “So pure and wonderfully delicate. The bouquet is alluring with cinnamon stick, warmed earth, forest floor, sweet spice and violet – very Burgundian and Ben’s time with one of Burgundy’s great, Domaine Dujac is clearly on show. The tannins are super-fine, almost whispery. Wonderful transparency (there is no hiding with this style), sweet fruit and pangs of freshness. The fruit is spiced and feels exotic – a twist of black pepper to balance the sweetness. Harmonious and beautiful being the most accurate description. The finish is long and seamless. Wonderfully accessible but 4-6 years of bottle age will unlock the wine’s true complexity. A real triumph…”


• 100% Pinot Noir - Clone MV6, Moorabool Valley, Geelong

• Strathmore Vineyard, Muhlebach Road, Sutherlands Creek- Planted 1998

• Grey and brown loams and clay loams, with Fragmented Granite

• 20% New French Oak

• 30% Whole Bunch

• 9 months in Barrel

• 13% Alc.

• 125 dozen produced

£32.95 per bottle


2019 Bannockburn Syrah

98 points - Stuart McCloskey “The fragrance is quite extraordinary and certainly one of the sexiest with blueberries, blackcurrant and damson – an entire hedgerow of ripe black fruits.  The palate feel is velvety and the sweet fruit saturates every facet. This is far from a ‘big’ blousy wine as Ben’s careful hands are again on show. The freshness is astonishing as are the perfectly judged oak and acidity. Incredibly fine and filled with lots of verve. Amazing purity and I wouldn’t be surprised if key critics (those who appreciate this style) make this wine the next Aussie (Syrah) cult. Perfect balance and the approachability is difficult to comprehend. Very, very beautiful and an amazing UK debut.” 


• 100% Syrah - Clone PT23, Moorabool Valley,
Geelong - Planted 1990

• Bannockburn Vineyard, Kelly Lane, Bannockburn

• Limestone clay with a very shallow topsoil horizon

• 20% New French Oak

• 25% Whole Bunch

• 9 months in Barrel

• 13% Alc.

• 120 dozen produced

£32.95 per bottle


2019 Bannockburn Fumé Blanc


98 Points - Stuart McCloskey "The bouquet is ultra-pure and sings with honeyed quince, touches of apple, apricot and warming ginger with more aeration. The palate is confident, unforced and a joy to sample. More complex than most Australian Sauvignon Blancs and full of charisma. I love the youthfulness which provides good bite and pithiness, although the palate offers much depth and breadth. Sumptuous in parts despite its infancy. Very impressive and certainly one of the best examples of Aussie Sauvignon Blanc currently available. Long, incredibly satisfying, juicy, moreish and sophisticated. This will be incredible in 5 years.”

Mike Bennie, The Wine Front "A superb rendition of the oak-rested Sauvignon Blanc sect of wines, here marrying gently nougat-like characters with ripe citrus, a splash of passionfruit and faint but comely green herb characters. It's got superb texture, lots of complexity and feels compelling to drink. Kudos."


• 100% Sauvignon Blanc - Clone F4V6, Moorabool Valley, Geelong

• Bannockburn Vineyard, Kelly Lane, Bannockburn - Planted 1996

• Limestone Clay with shallow topsoil horizon

• 30% New Austrian Oak

• Natural Ferment, Full Solids

• 9 months in Barrel

• 13.5% Alc.

• 100 dozen produced

£32.95 per bottle


2019 Portarlington Chardonnay


97+ - 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet is inviting with poached apples and pears (lightly spiced), lemon oil and lots of sea spray which builds fabulously with more aeration. A wine of great delicacy with the balance between fruit, structure and acidity pitch perfect. The palate is chiselled and laser-like with racy acidity. Saline, lemon, green apple and flint. Very sophisticated and intellectual, but natural all the same. The focus and purity feel unforced – very contemporary. Bottle age will develop this wine into an absolute beauty. It certainly has the pedigree and structure to offer at least a decade. Oh so graceful and the finish lasts for minutes… I predict this will score 98 to 99 points with a few years bottle age.”


• 100% Chardonnay - Clone I10V1, Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong

• Nurringa Park Vineyard, Portarlington Road, Portarlington - Planted 1994

• 20% New French Oak

• Natural Ferment, Full Solids

• 9 months in Barrel

• 13% Alc.

• 110 dozen produced

£32.95 per bottle


when purchased individually   

Introductory 4-pack


Reaffirming Perfection:
2016 Château Cos d’Estournel


This week, the worlds leading Bordeaux authority, Neal Martin released his ‘Southwold: Bordeaux 2016 Blind’ report which provides an in depth look at how the 2016 vintage has shaped up in bottle.

Originally, Neal declared the ’16 vintage as “fantastic, sublime and at times entrancing vintage". He goes on and considers “does the 2016 vintage deserve a gilded throne alongside classics such as 1961, 1982, 2005, 2009 and 2010? Has it lost its luster?”

Some scores have changed with Château Mouton Rothschild dropping a point (now 99) however, he continues to find no reason to alter his view of the vintage in its entirety.

We are delighted to offer a small parcel of the only 100-point wine, Château Cos d’Estournel

Only 8 cases (6x75cl OWC) are available and offered via LCB, Vinotheque


Château Cos d’Estournel 2016 (Case 6x75cl)

“In my last sighted review of the 2016 Cos d’Estournel, I wrote: "I suspect it will close down for a period in its youth." Perhaps it is already beginning to shut down, because though this wine was deeply impressive, it fell just a notch short of ethereal previous bottles, despite its "pixelated black fruit" on the nose and "sublime balance" on the palate. I tasted the wine twice thereafter, though this time with a 4-6 hour decant, and this revealed the Cos d'Estournel that has amazed since I first tasted it out of barrel.”

The full report is available via (subscribers only).

£750.00 per Case (6x75cl) IB


Huge score from James Halliday:
great work Franco...


Hoddles Creek Roadblock Chardonnay 2017

98 points - James Halliday "Planted on a east-facing terraced hill slope. It's quite certain the wine was barrel-fermented with a percentage of new French oak, but it's been soaked up by the fruit. It's an intricately polished wine, the fruit/oak/acid balance sheer perfection, its longevity impossible to guess."


Weekend Special
was £35.95   now £32.50


Stu's and Mag's Hidden Gems


Artisans of Barossa Barrel Blend Shiraz 2017

94-95 Points - Stu
95 Points - Mags

£17.50 per bottle

Soumah Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

96++ Points - Stu
Only 29 bottles remain

£19.95 per bottle

Soumah Single Vineyard Hexham Pinot Noir 2018

97 Points - Stu and Mags


£19.95 per bottle


JC's Own Freestyler 2019

97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “A wonderfully infused perfume of fresh, sliced pear, fennel, orchard fruits, white flowers, smoky minerals a faint whispering of wild honey. As JC set out to achieve – the palate offers substantial texture and grip from the tannins. Lots of nerve to admire too. I will say this wine is far more serious than JC lets on! It’s taut, focused, unadulterated, and packed with ripe, apple, pear, quince, and soupçon of honeysuckle… There’s a lovely line of juicy acidity which runs straight through the core and compliments the salty / smoky mineral finish perfectly. The length is to be admired. Very impressive and will thrill those who are seeking great northern and southern Rhône wines on a budget, which is a tad unfair on JC and this fabulous wine. Super-impressive and I'm taking a 12-pack home… Do not over chill and served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drinking from 2020-2025+”

£21.50 per bottle


Wild Duck Creek Roussanne 2017

96 Points - Mags

£23.95 per bottle

Massena Stonegarden Riesling 2018

96++ to 97++ - Stu

£19.95 per bottle

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2017

97+ Points - Stu

£22.95 per bottle


Top Kiwi Picks
from Jancis Robinson MW


Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2019

17 Points - Jancis Robinson "Very slightly reductive, struck-match nose and extra-bright fruit with strong passionfruit aromas and a certain amount of delicacy. Chalky finish. Lots of interest here. Very youthful and energetic indeed. Complimenti!"

Only £15.50 per bottle


Dog Point Chardonnay 2017

17 Points - Jancis Robinson "Yup, a little struck-match character on this one as well as on the Sauvignon Blancs – as one might expect. Completely deeelicious in my book. What a bargain! If, and only if, you like this style. But this seems constructed for the long term with exceedingly true and bright fruit. Coche fans could save a fortune ... Fairly rich fruit but with no shortage of trademark Marlborough acidity to keep it fresh."

£21.75 per bottle