Brendan and Laura Carter are the duo behind the ground-breaking Unico Zelo winery and Applewood Distillery in Gumeracha, in the Adelaide Hills. Working with both local grapes and those sourced a little farther afield, they have recalibrated the potential for new varieties and even unglamorous sites like few before them. Nero’ d’avola, fiano, barbera, dolcetto,…
Ben Mullen Mulline
Mulline is Ben Mullen’s solo venture, focusing on sites across the Geelong region. Fresh out of a stint as the winemaker at Clyde Park, Mullen was keen to continue his relationship with the grapes of the region, but on his own terms. Mulline was born in the 2019 vintage, with classically elegant single-site expressions of pinot noir, syrah and chardonnay leading the way.
Mulline is a merging of Bens. Or rather of their surnames. Ben Mullen and his partner Ben Hine are Mulline. The latter Ben is a lawyer, which is how he became a hospitality veteran (all that study doesn’t support itself), recording a sizeable tenure at Adelaide institution Chianti. Hine is the Mulline business manager, while Mullen is somewhat of a youthful veteran winemaker, with stints at some glittering addresses around the world.
A Barossa native, Mullen studied business and marketing while paying the bills through cellar door work. Before long, that marketing degree was switched out for winemaking, and he later graduated as a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology at Adelaide University. Mullen has worked at some of the finest addresses around the world, such as Leeuwin Estate (his first vintage, in 2012), Torbreck, Yarra Yering and Oakridge on our shores, as well as Domaine Dujac, in Burgundy, and Craggy Range, in New Zealand. He went to Craggy Range as an assistant winemaker, but he graduated to winemaker at the Hawkes Bay star in only 18 months. Prior to launching Mulline, he was the winemaker at Clyde Park.
During his tenure, Mullen launched a fumé blanc in the Clyde Park range – a bit of an obsession of his from his days at Craggy Range. At Craggy, Mullen saw a different side to a variety that is derided by many makers and wine aficionados. A challenge if you will, and one that he finds deeply intriguing. He has continued this thread with a textural and layered expression from the Bannockburn vineyard under the Mulline imprint. “It’s a different take on a variety that most people stay away from in the wine world, and something I can push the boundaries on in the winery.”
Along with pure and fine expressions of pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah from selected vineyards, Mullen makes a rosé that combines whole-bunch pressed shiraz with skin-contact sauvignon blanc, which is then fermented and aged in old barriques. Pinot gris also gets a dose of skins, with about a third of the blend macerated for seven days before neutral oak ageing. The balance is pressed and raised in tank. Mullen uses indigenous yeasts, French oak, mainly neutral, some whole bunch in the reds and plenty of solids in the whites. Mullen describes the wines he makes as “vibrant, varietal and thought provoking.”
Going forward, Mulline fruit will all be sourced from the greater Geelong area, whether from the Moorabool Valley, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast. “The long term goals for us are to continue our great relationships with the growers we are purchasing from, but also have a home base to establish a vineyard and build a winery to be able to produce our wine there,” Mullen says.