Maria Maglieri, Owner and now CEO of Serafino Wines. Photo: @2015 Kristof Gillese.

Maria Maglieri, Owner and now CEO of Serafino Wines Photo: @2015 Kristof Gillese.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival attracts some of the brightest minds in the world of wine and wine-making every year; 2015 being a shining example. I was privileged to have some time to sit with Maria Maglieri, third generation owner and now CEO of Serafino Wines in the McLaren Vale of South Australia.

Forgiving poor sound quality, there is even a video interview of me with Maria at the Friday evening Festival Tasting Room~! Though you may have to struggle a bit to hear what we say over the din of the tidal surge of oenophiles swarming the Australian tasting booths in the background what we say is, I think, worth the effort.

Click below to view:

Maria shared a lot with me on and off-camera about her Dad; Serafino (Steve) Maglieri. It’s a tale that’s been spun for ages: a young man sets off to seek his fortune with little in his pocket, but true wealth in his heart. Here’s a guy who had generational knowledge of grape-growing and wine-making and a willingness to risk what little he had to make a dream come true.

Serafino wanted to show people, in Australia and back home in Sepino, that Mediterranean varietals could do more than grow in South Australia – they could thrive! And whilst the Maglieri fortune may have much to do with the timely creation of easily quaffable libations that would best be labelled as “consumer-friendly”, the Serafino name carries weight due to the unquenchable passion that carried this vision.

This is the drive and determination that carried a family better known for Lambrusco to the heights of the Australian wine Illuminati: winning multiple gold medals and bringing home kudos from the top competitions in the land. And the nods of approval haven’t been just ceremonial! When the rest of the market was suffering from declines in red wine sales only a few years ago, Serafino brushed past 10,000 competitors to capture the market; doubling their sales and scoring a brilliant partnership with Virgin Airlines. The Serafino Cabernet Sauvignon is now the only full-bodied red wine served on that airlines route from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Artistry. Business acumen. A heart-warming story about a kid who stuck to his guns; earned his place in the world and inspired a daughter to forge her own. Heck – the wines are even well priced… I can’t wait until I get to write the follow-up article!

Serafino 2013 “Bellissimo” Fiano
$20 in AUS, 91 points, Excellent Value
Serafino 2013 “Bellissimo” Fiano… tastes like more! I love that this wine is bursting with citrus tones: perky lemon zest, hints of yellow grapefruit and grilled lime and yet carries a delicacy of white floral tones as well. Brilliantly focused, the zippy (full) acid lends itself to the impeccably focused minerality – tasting much like Muscadet, or more appropriately as this is an Italian varietal, a superb Falanghina. The only challenge with this wine may be that it drinks far too easily! Excellent balance, structure and concentration (length on the palate), this holds well for several years but will not develop due to Stelvin enclosure: enjoy 2015-2019

… by its very nature, a racy white wine with zippy lemon/lime/grapefruit flavors is made for fish and seafood. If you have access to it, whiting is a sustainably harvested fish that, when fresh, has brilliant flavor to it. Consider fresh whiting fish-cakes with minted rémoulade… all kinds of great balance going on – that fresh mint will really bring the citrus and light floral tones in the wine into focus!

Serafino 2012 “Sorrento” Grenache
93 points, SUPERB
… a boldly concentrated bouquet of wild thyme and scrub-brush is brought to balance by polished aromas of ripe red raspberry, raspberry leaf and red currants. The palate is matched by an equally graceful palate; delivering full acids that are integrated and make the wine a bit “too easy” to enjoy… my sample seeming to disappear by itself. Medium+ fine polished tannin will cosy up to robust food but, once again due to excellent construction, need nothing more than a beautiful evening and delightful company as accompaniments. Excellent balance, superb structure and excellent concentration; this wine will live for many years but not develop due to Stelvin enclosure: enjoy 2015-2020

… hefty for grenache, this wine will delight in fuller/richer dishes and yet, when I paused to consider fully, perhaps it should be savored much as one would in France. Grenache is from France and in the smaller villages one could still find wood oven baked bread, local olives, sun-dried tomato and artichoke salad… there are some rustic/earthy tones to the wine that food cooked over wood-fire will enhance, the bitey-brine of olives with hints of rosemary, garlic and thyme will develop those leafy/herbaceous tones and the sun-dried tomato loves raspberry!

Serafino 2013 “Bellissimo” Tempranillo
$20 AUS, 92 points, Excellent Value
Serafino 2013 “Bellissimo” Tempranillo…sultry; this wine is utterly focused and it is no wonder that it’s already won multiple gold medals. Bright blue and red berry aromas (blueberries, raspberry, strawberry) blend seamlessly with savory leafy tones (tomato leaf, raspberry leaf). The full acids are beautifully integrated and refreshing, the medium tannin structure silky with a definite grip to them. Excellent balance, structure and concentration this wine will live for many years and yet not develop appreciably in bottle due to Stelvin enclosure. Enjoy 2015-2020+

…with such concentration of savory aromas and flavors, and the predominance of fresh blue and red berries, wild game is going to be a natural pairing to this wine. There are multiple options with this: venison osso-bucco with saffron risotto an obvious one. These unctuous texture of the dish will be balanced by the bright/fresh acid, the gamy flavors complimenting the berries. Wine of this level of professionalism doesn’t need food, but it will most certainly enhance the experience.

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My last notes are on a wine that I tasted in the McLaren Vale “Scarce Earth” lecture; it was a stunning lecture and a truly educational experience. This was a tasting centered on single vineyard Shiraz/Syrah from that (almost) secret part of South Australia just 30 kilometers south of Adelaide; one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world and, as such, a region with immense diversity to its expressions of varietal.

Serafino 2010 “Terramoto” Syrah
$120 AUS, 94 points, STUNNING
Serafino 2010 “Terramoto” Syrah… “sultry” was the word that came to mind when I savored the first aromas swirling from the glass: sexy perfumed dark floral tones blending with earthy/truffled aromas and rich cigar box nuances. Ripe red raspberries/blackberries/currants rounded out an already stunning bouquet and when I tasted it: game over. I was in Heaven! Impeccable balance, structure, concentration, with the flavors playing brilliant harmony to the intricate aromas… it was the incredible textured mouth-feel, the creaminess, the sinfully seductive ease with which this world-class wine is consumed that nudged it into my highest echelon of scores and respect. This is an incredible wine already and will reward cellaring for decades; I concur with Mr James Halliday who states that it “cellars with ease until 2040+”.

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Many thanks to Burrows, Luongo and Associates (importer to Western Canada) and to Maria Maglieri and Serafino Wines for their time and the very generous sample bottles.

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Maria Maglieri of Serafino Wines being interviewed by Kristof Gillese.

About Author

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Kristof Gillese: trained chef, certified wine steward, journalist and proud father. In these articles it is the human story that takes priority: to tell the tale of common people accomplishing uncommon goals. In the world of wine these tales are prolific. It has been Chef Kristofs privilege to have worked with luminaries such as Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot, Nik Weis of St Urbans-Hof, Ray Signorello of Signorello Estates and Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery; leaders in the industry. With almost 3 decades of experience working with the synergy between food and wine, Chef Kristof is proud to share the stories of these amazing stewards of the land. These articles are written with a profound reverence for the family aspect to winery culture as, to this writers understanding, nothing has ever had a more far-reaching effect than the love and devotion for a parent to a child. All great wineries are built by parents for their children and it is because of this that Chef Kristof writes.
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