Minimum Wines are back this October 14-16 at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton pouring their fun and energetic wines all market weekend! We loved getting to know the crew in July and wanted to learn more about their story, how they became a B-corp and what we can expect to sip on this Spring at the FK Bar. We caught up with Co-Director and head of Minimum’s content and positive impact, Mat Bate, to dive deeper into the barrel of all things minimal intervention and organic winemaking.
Can you tell us how Minimum Wines started?
Minimum’s first vintage was not too long ago, in 2018, after a couple of years of converting the vineyard on Yorta Yorta Country (Toolamba, near Shepparton) to Certified Organic and using some space at an established winery on Taungurrung Country (Nagambie). It was a family adventure, Matt and Lentil Purbrick with Matt’s father Alistair. Matt and Lentil had been deeply engaged with small-scale organic farming for many years via Grown & Gathered, publishing two books – Grown & Gathered and The Village– as practical guides to traditional living in the modern context and the central role of community in bringing it all together. Matt’s a sixth-generation winemaker, who’d be making natty wines on the side, so it was natural he and Lentil would move from market gardening (providing produce to some of the best restaurants in Melbourne) to minimal intervention, Organic winemaking.
About a year after the first release of Minimum’s wines in 2019, Matt’s father, Alistair, stepped aside, and Matt and Lentil continued. Matt, as Head Winemaker and Lentil as Creative Director, doing most of the work in the early days themselves. I’ve (Mat) been around since early 2020, when the label was just emerging, and this year came on board as a Co-Director myself, managing all of our content and our impact initiatives. At the moment, we’re a team of 5 very much committed to staying small and humble, including Leigh, our new winemaker, Monty, our marketing/partnership lead and Chloe, our social media whiz.
What is the story behind the business name?
Minimum’s all about pulling back and seeking the minimum in as many places as possible. It reflects our perspectives and techniques we use on the vineyard and in the winery – intervening as little as possible to let the grapes do their thing – and how we internally come together and run a progressively-minded, intentional company. Seeking the minimum is also reflected in how we structure the company, ensuring we have enough to keep us going and then giving the rest back to the community. At the core of it all, we want to always celebrate the sometimes fleeting but beautiful moments when we drink wine together, and we believe that by pulling back, the grapes have their chance to tell their story, and we collaborate with them as it evolves.
How has the business evolved since it started?
Gosh, it’s been a pretty wild ride. Each year on the vineyard and winery, we’re getting more intimate with our site, our vines, and our “minimum”, and are always developing our style to reflect the true character of the grapes. We’re finding the more intimate we get, the more low-fi we can get, which for us means more energetic, meaningful wines. In 2021 Matt was named in the Top 50 young Australian winemakers by Young Guns Of Wine, and we also received two of the seven highest awards at the 2021 Australian Organic Wine Awards for our 2020 Colossus of Harry Sauvignon Blanc (Best Left Of Centre Wine) and the 2021 Hailstorm Special Pét Nat (Best Park Wine).
Then, last year we made a commitment that moving forward, we’re giving back 5% of our revenue each year to an array of impact projects that directly benefit our community and the environment. Structuring it that way means that as our business grows, so does our impact. We plant a tree every dozen we sell (so far, we’ve planted over 9,000 trees), give 1% of our revenue to paying the rent and are now hosting an annual exhibition to raise even more funds to Pay The Rent.
Building this into the structure of the business and honouring the power of transparency and accountability is a joyful challenge (you can read our manifesto HERE). Earlier this year, we finally became a B Corp, which is a robust measurement of how moral/ethical our corporate structure is. This then led to us being named as a Best For The World candidate, scoring in the top 5% of all B Corps for Community and Environment.
Evolution is a constant for us, really, and we take inspiration from our ferments. Each year the seasons change, the grapes change, our style develops, the wines develop, and by staying small and grounded, we can hopefully evolve in alignment with it all.
Why is minimum intervention wine better for people and the planet?
We think good wine is just good wine. You can taste and experience it in the glass. We try to make good, energetic wines with respect for where they (and we) have come from, and for us, we express that with minimal intervention. A commitment to Organic and regenerative principles in the vineyard, reducing our additions in the winery (we only use 3 adds: minimal sulphur where needed, some tartaric acid adjustments and C02) and then not fining our wines is all part of the dance.
What do you love about Melbourne, and who are you looking forward to seeing at the market?
Melbourne is really the heart and soul of our community. Our office is in the middle of Fitzroy, and it’s so damn nice to be involved in The Finders Keepers at the Royal Exhibition Building, a drop punt away from our office. We’re stoked to connect hopefully connect again with the solid array of First Nations-led makers, some of the producers close to our vineyard and get stuck into some of the solid vegan eats!
What can we expect from your stall at this event?
Same vibe as last time, pretty low-key and fun. We’ve got a couple of new wines for people to taste, including a crazy 6-blend Pét Nat, lightly fizzed and hella complex and a new white. The cult classic 2021 Red (Sangio/Syrah) will also be there again, we couldn’t not bring it given how well it flowed last time. Can’t wait to see familiar faces and make some new friends, our winemaker Leigh will also be there so we can get all geeky about winemaking if anyone’s down for it.