Matt and Tara have spent most of their winemaking careers on the Mornington Peninsula, with regular forays to France and Spain. And it was inspiration from one of those trips that saw their first names merged to form their Mattara label centred on what has become a bit of a calling card – rosé. The Mattara wines are made as opportunities with different parcels of interesting grapes arise, with varieties, blends and techniques changing from year to year, but the wines are always pure, poised and brightly fruited, with a thoughtful approach to structure and texture – and they are always astonishing value. Mattara currently make a bright and zippy, red-fruited pinot noir and a classically pale and dry rosé from nero d’avola and shiraz.
Matt and Tara Campbell met in Dookie, in the Goulburn Valley, while they were both studying a graduate diploma in wine science and marketing. Tara had previously acquired a bachelor’s degree majoring in biochemistry, while Matt had graduated as a history major – her first degree has proven somewhat more useful than his.
Matt had started in the wine game working retail, then completed his first vintage at Dromana Estate, on the Mornington Peninsula, in 2005. That job stuck, with him staying on with Rollo Crittenden until the latter moved to the family business when Crittenden Estate was founded in 2008. Matt still works alongside Rollo as his assistant winemaker. He has completed vintages overseas including at Les Clos Perdus, in Corbières, Le Soulas, in the Laguedoc and Domaine Chevrot, in Burgundy.
Tara worked her way up through wine retail, too, with stints at the Prince Wine Store in St Kilda and South Melbourne. While working there and studying, Tara completed vintages at Kooyong and Dromana Estate, before working at Kooyong as Assistant Winemaker from 2006 to 2008. Tara has also worked at Les Clos Perdus, and on the marketing side for Tyrrell’s Wines, Fine Wine Partners, CUB and Asahi.
The pair started Mattara in 2008 as a side project, which was initially inspired by the notion of making rosé in a classic French style. “It took inspiration from travels through France and Spain, specifically a short stint making wine in the Corbières appellation in France. Initially we made some dry, textural rosé, to continue the memory of our travels and in preparation for the coming summer,” says Tara.
That first rosé was made mainly from shiraz, and though rosé has been a constant, the blend has not. “Finding small parcels of varieties such as mourvèdre, cinsault and nero d’avola has given us the opportunity to experiment with winemaking techniques as well as varieties,” she says. “We have also sought different parcels of fruit to make a fresh, lean and textural chardonnay, and a classic Mornington Peninsula expression of pinot noir, with delicious red cherries, sweet spices and medium tannin and length. We are always on the lookout for new varieties and challenges within winemaking.”