A coffee with Sam Scott of La Prova
I met Sam over a coffee at the cellar door which is open the first weekend of every month. It’s set in a beautiful old limestone building. To the right is a long wooden table and benches stretching the length of the room with a high table and bar stools on the left. In the corner, by the entrance are the two comfy armchairs and couch where we chatted over coffee. Along with the lighting and décor, it has lovely cosy feel to it, a little like an Aspen ski lodge especially with the mouse image on one of the cushions. I felt right at home!
At La Prova, they make just 4,000 cases of 12; 48,000 bottles of stunning wines. They are mainly domestic focused with a small export market in Singapore and England. The team is mainly Sam with a winery assistant and two people who manage the office and cellar door. Sam and his team really seem to care, they care about the environment, people and making great wine. And the lean team really are nice guys. While I was here, I saw Simone again who I had met when I first came here in November for a tasting and she was just as kind as before!
“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me Sam, I appreciate you’re a busy man!”
“No problem at all Ruth, thanks for coming to see us.”
Where did your passion in wine start? “From a young age, I was fortunate to live opposite my grandparents while I was growing up in Adelaide and loved spending time with them. While I was studying, I worked part time at Booze Brothers and in between coming home from university and going to work, I would sometimes drop into my grandparent’s house. My granddad would always have a bottle of wine open down by the side of his arm chair and would pour some for me and ask me what I thought of it, what aromas and flavours I could decipher from the glass (without knowing what the label was) and what grape variety it was. I loved his passion for wine and I soon couldn’t get enough of it, I loved learning about it! And my grandfather developed his passion for wine from his dad, who worked at Magill Estate Cellar Door putting blends together for Max Schubert.”
I can now see why Sam loves ‘experimenting’ with different styles of wines and trying new techniques, hence the name ‘La Prova’.
Where did you work after you finished your degree? “After university I worked in retail and then started selling for David Ridge in Adelaide (the portfolio at the time included wineries such as Shaw and Smith, Cullen, Chain of Ponds, Knappstein, Mount Horrocks).”
Where did your love of Sangiovese come from? I found Sangiovese working with Italian wines like Tignanello and Chianti Classico and it changed the styles and regions of wines that I drank. That was back in 1996 and 1997. It really was a defining moment finding Sangiovese. I just love the more textural and savoury wines made from Italian varieties. It also goes well with food and I believe consumers want medium weight and good quality wines to accompany their family dinners.”
Where do you source your grapes from? “We used to source from a number of regions in South Australia; Langhorne Creek, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu region, McLaren Vale, Riverland and Prosecco from the King Valley in Victoria. But as we now want to focus our time on sourcing grapes from regions that we feel are well suited. We know that Prosecco is at home in the King Valley so that’ll be the furthest vineyard for us for now. We will buy fruit from the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale. There is great natural rain and acidity in the Hills. Fiano is well suited to the Hills as well as Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Pinot Nero and our Aglianico Rosato.
I’ve found that Italian wines like Nero d’Avola flourish in the south like McLaren Vale as they like heat and produce medium weight and savoury wines.
Then we’ll make the wines at a small winery that we share with Ten Miles East. All the equipment is divided. We lease the equipment that we don’t have. I really enjoy this collaborative way of working. I feel thankful to have had the opportunities to work with such great people and I believe in paying it forward.”
Where does your inspiration come from? “From drinking and tasting and making different styles. I love trialling new things and experimenting. I used to read Max Allen every weekend in the paper and I really enjoyed learning about the different wines and styles.
Recently I made a Pét-Nat (pétillant naturel) out of Pinot Grigio and I’ve just made 40 dozen Pét-Nat Agliancio Rosatos. The primary fermentation occurs in the bottle as the wine is bottled while it is still fermenting and therefore the bubbles are created in that bottle. The wine is not disgorged or filtered so you’ll see the dead yeast cells at the bottom of the glass. It ferments to dryness so it’s not sweet. I just love experimenting but it’s not a new method, the French have been making it for centuries in south west France using the grape Mauzac.”
Where do you meet your mentors David Ridge and Kym Milne MW? “I met them both through work, I worked with David when I finished studying. Then after I left the wholesale business, I worked alongside Kim who was the chief winemaker at Bird and Hand.”
What are your hopes for the business this year? “For every vintage, the one thing I wish for is to make wine as good as or better than the year before. The weather will do what it does but I will keep trying to make the wine tastier and more delicious. We want happy customers of our wines… we love all our wines all, they’re all delicious!”
Availability: Although Sam has the ability to sell online, he focuses his wines in the restaurants as well as key independent wine stores. They love their distributors and support the retail trade; “We couldn’t sell the wines without them,” Sam adds.
In addition to making wines under ‘La Prova’ label, Sam also makes wines under the ‘Scott’ name. His full range of wines are:
- SCOTT ‘THE DENIZEN’ CHARDONNAY 2015
- SCOTT ‘LO ZINGARO’ 2014
- SCOTT ‘PICCADILLY VALLEY’ CHARDONNAY 2016
- SCOTT ‘HOPE FOREST’ SYRAH 2015
- LA PROVA BIANCO 2016
- LA PROVA ROSSO 2015
- LA PROVA PROSECCO 2017
- LA PROVA PINOT GRIGIO 2017
- LA PROVA FIANO 2017
- LA PROVA AGLIANICO ROSATO 2017
- LA PROVA PINOT NERO 2016
- LA PROVA MONTEPULICIANO 2015
- LA PROVA NERO D’AVOLA ‘BAROSSA VALLEY’ 2016
- LA PROVA NERO D’AVOLA ‘MCLAREN VALE’ 2016
- LA PROVA SANGIOVESE 2016
- LA PROVA PRIMITIVO 2015
- LA PROVA LAGREIN 2013
Crush Festival 26 – 28 January: If you’re around Australia Day weekend in the AdelaideHills, check out the Crush Festival on 26-28 January. It’s set to be a fun-filled event where more than 20 wineries will be opening their lawns to food, live entertainment, games for all the family and tastings!
At the La Prova, just at the back, over the bridge on about one acre of shaded grass, there will be live jazz music, fun garden games, virgin cocktails for drivers, tasty food by Jack Ruby and Live A Little Gelato Artisan Gelati Bar. Sounds like a great event! Click here for details!