Sam Scott’s wine education began with his great-grandfather, who worked in Penfolds’ winery with Max Schubert and passed his knowledge on to his son. At his grandfather’s knee, Scott absorbed wisdom and taste alike. While studying business at university he worked part-time with a Who’s Who of the Adelaide wine trade; the most influential was David Ridge, who imported Italian wines and sold to restaurants and retailers.
After working in many parts of Australia and in California, Scott started his own business in the Adelaide Hills in 2008. He initially used Scott Wines as the business name, but his interest in Italian varieties mushroomed, and more and more of the wines bore the La Prova label. In 2019 he decided to discontinue the Scott Wine label altogether and to only use Italian varieties.
All of the intake is contract-grown, all using sustainable vineyard practices, pesticide-free and with permanent mid-row grasses that reduce the amount of traffic and soil compaction. Beneficial insects are encouraged (partly by an insectarium), and by the absence of systemic sprays.
The seamless journey from vineyard to winery means that “the day you pick is the day you make your wine”, Scott says. He has trialled 16 varieties so far, and worked on the best interaction between given varieties and terroirs – so he’s stepped from the Hills to the Fleurieu Peninsula for pinot blanc, the King Valley for prosecco, and McLaren Vale for nero d’Avola.
Jancis Robinson lists 377 Italian grape varieties in production in her book Wine Grapes. Ian D’Agata’s 620-page book Native Wine Grapes of Italy (2014) points to researchers suggesting 1000 to 2000 varieties. Either way, Scott has a lifetime’s work to even scratch the surface of the pool of varieties. And then there are clones: there are already three of fiano in production.
2018 La Prova Zanzara Fleurieu Peninsula Pinot Bianco
Hand-picked, and whole-bunch-pressed directly to old French barrels for wild ferment. This is the most complex and interesting version of the normally bland pinot blanc I can remember. It floods the mouth with custard apple, lime zest and a slight beeswax feel. 13.3% alc, screwcap
95 points, drink to 2024, $35 (unfortunately out of stock)
2018 La Prova Piccolino Adelaide Hills Sangiovese
Above average colour for the variety. A cherry all-sorts bouquet leads into a complex texture on the palate, but the savoury/twiggy elements don’t emasculate the red (fresh and sour) cherry fruit. It’s a wine made for food. 14.2% alc, screwcap
95 points, drink to 2029, $45 (in stock, buy from the winery)
2020 La Prova Adelaide Hills Fiano
Hand-picked, chilled, whole bunch-pressed; 60% fermented in stainless steel, 40% fermented on full solids in old oak. The fruit is thus allowed to add to fiano’s reputation for inherent texture and drive, yet with no phenolics to clutter the lingering finish and aftertaste midway between citrus and stone fruit. 13.5% alc, screwcap
94 points, drink to 2023, $28 (unfortunately out of stock)