Nonno’s in the backyard stoking the fire of his makeshift pizza oven while Nonna throws ingredients around the kitchen with spirited abandon. A dusting of flour, a handful of leafy basil, too much garlic and the sweetest of tomatoes plucked straight from the garden (of the backyard lined otherwise fence-to-fence with concrete). She’d wink, flash a cheeky smile and waggle a finger at you when asked about that secret sauce she had tucked away in the cupboard… Salami hangs from the rafters. Passata from February lines the pantry. In this house, wild gesticulation is a language universally understood.
Who is Gusto Mama?
Wine’s usually an unceremonious affair, opened as much to quench thirst as it is to flesh out the ragout. But Gusto Mama is for those good occasions, when family’s around. It’s on the top shelf in the kitchen, away from underage fingers. Usually this would be the worst place for wine due to heat, but the turnover’s high. It’s still drunk from tumblers, but it’s accompanied by a mumbled, satisfied ‘mmm’ from Nonna and a ‘hfff’ from Nonno as he sinks into his chair. That’s a lot more than you’d get from anything else. You can tell it makes them feel more at home; and you didn’t think that was possible.
Made by Joel Pizzini & Family
Joel Pizzini’s taken his dad Alfredo’s legacy of making renowned King Valley wines and doubled down on the region’s standout specialty: sangiovese. He’s trained at top wineries around the globe, including Isole e Olena in Chianti - one of the world’s best sangiovese makers. Joel regularly walks the vineyards with his dad, forever honing his knowledge of the land’s foibles and features.
Of course it’s a family affair, with siblings Natalie, Nicole and Carlo all playing key roles in the business. Alfredo remains Pizzini patriarch, but perhaps the most important person of all - of course - is Katrina, who isn’t only Pizzini ambassador but, fittingly, also runs her own cooking school. A mama with much gusto indeed!
Her secret is out, and we’ve bottled it. Gusto Mama is effortlessly fresh, capturing that 2017 vintage goodness with panache, assuredness and a certain suavity. An inescapably seamless bundle of red fruits, spice and earth lures you in. Perfectly ripe red cherry, sage and a touch of lime, black pepper and cocoa, rolled up in that hedonistic sense-memory of pottery clay. There’s a fresh jam-filled doughnut thing going on, too, that speaks of grapes kept happy from budburst to bottling. The palate’s brightly juicy, packed with more generous red fruit. It’s lightly dusty to match the juiciness, with a fine line that lengthens everything just the right amount. This is a wine not of power or boldness, but of tension and poise. Deliberation, if you will.
Gusto Mama truly is the matriarch of the dining table. On her command, family rivalries are set aside, at least for the day. This is unpretentious, humble wine with a generous soul but a calm, commanding presence - simply pour into a carafe, share liberally and drink with gusto!
The wine is rewarding, but wait till you add pizza. We’ve worked out how to make pizza better and that may just be the greatest discovery of all time. Gusto Mama tastes best when paired with lashings of rich tomato sauce, spread over a crispy base and topped off with, well, whatever you want. Pineapple? Controversial, but you do you, mofo. Gusto Mama judges but we sure as hell don’t.
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It’s cool, we get it, you want to know absolutely everything about this wine. Well here you go, go nuts.
- King Valley
- Alcohol by Vol.
- Bottle Vol
- Blend Info
- 100% Sangiovese
- Serving Temp.
This vintage we had a very wet winter and spring - winter never seemed to end. Variation in rain meant that we had very cold soils in spring, which led to a delay in budburst. Ultimately, this meant that harvest started a month later than usual. It was quite cool and mild during late December and early January, which lead to maximum flavour development at lower sugar levels. The coolness of the vintage conditions was perfect for producing our early ripening reds.
The winemaking involves a selection of techniques from cold maceration to maintain the fruit weight and freshness, and hot fermentation to add that typical earthy sangiovese style to the wine. This wine is aged in a mixture of large format oak barrels and barriques with some batches aged in stainless steel tanks to maintain vibrancy and freshness.
The region of King Valley is as impressive as its name. With a magnificent vineyard area covering 1,800ha, it represents half of all the plantings in North East Victoria. Celebrated for its innovative varietals, covering all corners of the globe - from Spain, to Germany, France, Russia and more famously Italy, it's this point of difference that has made the area such a revered Aussie wine region. Gentle slopes, warm days and cool nights make it an ideal area to produce Mediterranean varieties such as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Prosecco amongst many other out-of-the-box wines - talk about La Dolce Vita!
The rules are there ain’t no rules, but here are some foods we think will work pretty well with this wine...
Pizza with bocconcini, prosciutto & rocket
- 1 x 440g bought pizza base with tomato paste
- 5 bocconcini, thickly sliced
- 80g (1/2 cup) pitted black olives
- 80g baby rocket leaves
- 30g (1/3 cup) shaved parmesan
- 7 thin slices prosciutto, torn in half
- Preheat the oven to 250°C. Place an oven shelf in the lowest position. Place pizza base on a baking tray. Top with bocconcini and olives.
- Bake on the lowest shelf of oven for 8 minutes or until the bocconcini melts and the base is crisp.
- Meanwhile, combine the rocket and parmesan in a bowl.
- Top the pizza with the prosciutto and the rocket mixture to serve.
The wines we remember are about the moments. The people, the places. That’s life. Here are some ideas...