Meet the maker… Mike Farmilo

Meet the maker… Mike Farmilo, McLaren Vale SA.

Mike Farmilo is the un-sung hero behind both Monterra Wines and Colab & Bloom, the funky McLaren Vale brand he and his business partner, Norm Doole established in 2015. Indeed, Mike Farmilo has flown under the vinous radar for four decades despite an extensive career that began at Angove after he graduated from Roseworthy College in 1977. A stint at Seaview saw Farmilo fall in love with McLaren Vale, an affair that’s remained ever since. Farmilo was recruited from Seaview into the challenging role of Group Red Winemaker with the industry giant, Southcorp — now part of Treasury Wine Estates.

It was at Southcorp that Mike’s talents came to full fruition with the responsibility for the benchmark red wines of Penfolds, Lindemans, Seppelt and Wynns. Farmilo was deeply involved with crafting Penfolds’ iconic Grange and instrumental in winning two Jimmy Watson trophies, the highly prized Melbourne Wine Show’s ‘Top Young Red’ trophy. To cap off his Southcorp career, Farmilo was crowned McLaren Vale Bushing King in 1994 as maker of the Championship Wine of the Show. Retiring from Southcorp in 1997 wasn’t for Farmilo, so he turned his focus to numerous projects that have kept him busy over the last 20 years including vintages in Germany, California, France and Chile. Mike has judged at dozens of Wine Shows across the country, including chairing the Australian Small Winemakers Show in Stanthorpe.

While the Monterra portfolio includes traditional French shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot noir, it’s Italianate grapes that are catching Farmilo’s attention with pinot grigio and nero d’Avola adding spice to his winemaking endeavours. Under the Colab & Bloom banner Farmilo pushes well beyond the boundaries of corporate winemaking with tempranillo and garnacha (aka grenache) shining. Farmilo is back in the zone and loving it — enjoying the fruits of his labour.

Check out our Mark Farmilo wine picks: 

Monterra Reserve Black Label Shiraz  

Colab and Bloom Grenache

Willunga 100 Tempranillo

The 100 Point System

What is this 100 point system I keep hearing about in the wine world??

Robert Parker Junior published the subscription-based Wine Advocate for over 30 years, predicated on his ability to pick winners. The great 1982 Bordeaux reds were overlooked by the traditional English wine critics, but Parker trumpeted their virtues. He was right, and his reputation was set in stone.

Parker began using a 100 point system, with all his top wines scoring in the high-90’s. Parker has awarded 100 points to the Chamber’s Rosewood Rutherglen Rare Muscat. The US-based Wine Spectator followed Parker’s lead with their 1995 Top 100 Wine of the Year awarded to the 1990 Penfold’s Grange with a rating of 97 points – a wine listed at $100 USD per bottle!!

Australian Wine Shows have now adopted the 100 point system with wines scoring less than 85 points in the N.B.M. category, a silver medal awarded at 90 points and a gold above 95. James Halliday follows the 100 point system, scoring the Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat at 100 points.

Victories versus value… is it worth it??

In reality, medals and trophies are only a guide and rarely take into account price. A $15 bottle can rub shoulders in the same wine-show class as a $150 bottle. Is the $150 bottle ten times as good? No—it may be better but the multiplier effect really doesn’t work with wine. Wines in the $10-$20 range are made to drink now and not necessarily cellared for a decade. Winning a medal — or even better, a trophy — is a quality guide but in the end, trust your palate and buy the wines that bring pleasure to you, your family and your friends.