Babo

Vino Italiano: Clear, Delicious, Diverse Interpretations Offering Superb Value
Babo
They say time flies when you are having fun. The 2023 vintage marks Babo’s 15th year crafting its delicious range of great-value Italian vino. And while the range has grown in tandem with quality over the years, Justin Bubb’s pricing remains rooted in the noughties.

When he’s not doing his Tasmanian thing alongside his better half, Anna, at Pooley Wines* and Bubb + Pooley, Justin can be found plying his magic across the vineyards of Italy. His ethos is refreshingly simple—to make regionally classic wines focusing on freshness, approachability and enjoyment in the glass. Year in, year out, he delivers these things in spades while maintaining superb classicism.

It helps that Justin works with well-established vineyards managed by good growers, some of whom he has known for almost 20 years. It also helps that he is a gifted winemaker with an innate talent for capturing a sense of place with maximum pleasure. As Justin explains: “The most important thing for us is to make it easy for people to connect with the varieties and with the place. To do that, the wines must be classic but fresh, pure, clear and fine.”

Bubb is as grounded as they come, and the beauty of Babo’s credo is not to overpromise, which means the wines always overdeliver. Those who appreciate the clearly delineated diversity of Italian wine—and a bargain to boot—will have a field day with these.

* #33, Halliday Wine Companion Top 100 Wineries 2023

The Wines

Babo Prosecco Rosé DOC 2020
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Babo Prosecco Rosé DOC 2020

This is 89% Glera and 11% Pinot Noir from vineyards on the alluvial soils of San Martino al Tagliamento near Pordenone in Fruili. Justin Bubb crafts his Prosecco rosé in the regionally traditional Charmat method and leaves the blend on lees to build further complexity. The wine is bright and perfumed with big summer berry flavours, a soft, fleshy, zesty weight, and a cranberry-fresh finish. This will be right at home at any summer barbeque. 

The resultant wine has a persistent perlage, with a bouquet full of red and black berries and a fruity-fresh finish.

Babo Prosecco Rosé DOC 2020
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Babo Prosecco DOC NV
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Babo Prosecco DOC NV

This Bibendum favourite comes from a young vineyard in Friuli’s San Martino al Tagliamento, a village that has only recently been granted Prosecco status. Now with just 10 g/L residual sugar, we’ve seen Babo’s Prosecco go from strength to strength. Most Prosecco consumed in Australia clocks in at around 17 g/L, making this drier and more intense than many other examples. Abiding by the DOC regulations, this has to be labelled as a non-vintage, although the wine comes from a single vintage.

Made from 100% Glera using the Charmat method, this is attractive and fresh. It has a stone fruit and floral fragrance with creamy mouthfeel centred around a pithy, citrusy core offset by hints of almond biscuits and an ebullient, buoyant texture. As always, it is one of the best-value Proseccos around.

It has fresh, peachy/floral fragrance and a creamy mouthfeel centred around a core of pear skin, citrus and melon fruits, offset by substantial yeasty, creamy depths. As always, one of the best value Proseccos going around.

Babo Prosecco DOC NV
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Babo Pinot Grigio 2022
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Babo Pinot Grigio 2022

Friuli, in the far northeast of Italy, has a justified rep for making the country's best white wines. Justin Bubb explains: “The key to this region is the difference in diurnal temperature. In the growing season, the days are very warm, but the nights are freezing. This allows a nice, long ripening and wonderful aromatics for the white wines.” So, it’s good news that Babo’s Pinot Grigio is sourced from this region—specifically from a 30-year-old site in San Martino al Tagliamento, near Pordenone. The vineyard sits at the base of the Alps, and the soils are a mix of clay and alpine gravel from alluvial deposits.

Pinot Grigio from Friuli generally has more fleshy layers than, say, those from Veneto and Trentino, a feature Justin underscores by allowing eight hours of skin contact in the press. Fermentation is in steel tanks, and the wine remains on lees for eight months before bottling. A far cry from the one-dimensional wines that crowd the market, it’s crisp, fresh, compact and bright, awash with bell-clear flavours of orchard fruit, flower and pithy citrus, lovely texture and a mouth-watering, tangy close. A quality example of Italian Pinot Grigio at a heck of a price. 

Babo Pinot Grigio 2022
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Babo Chianti 2021
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Babo Chianti 2021

Cheap Chianti can be all kinds of wrong, but this deliciously juicy, medium-bodied Tuscan red is crazy good value. As far as we know, this was the first Chianti to be bottled under screwcap and offered in a Burgundy-shaped bottle (of course, others have now followed). Quality fruit, sourced from a southwest-facing vineyard in Vinci (near Empoli), elevates this to a status far exceeding what you’d typically expect at this price point.

The winemaking takes two paths. The first parcel ferments as whole bunches (fully carbonic) and is raised in concrete vats for six months. A second ferment is de-stemmed and matured in concrete for eight months. The blend captures plenty of Chianti’s trademark sour cherry tang, here combined with lifted florals and orange rind notes, juicy freshness and a hint of aniseed and dried-herb savouriness, which complements the fine acidity and gentle tannin on the finish. Just a delicious, jubey red that Justin aptly describes as “Beaujolais from Italy”.   

Babo Chianti 2021
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Babo Nero d'Avola 2020
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Babo Nero d'Avola 2020

Nero d’Avola’s reputation might have tracked Sicily’s wine renaissance, but this wasn’t always the case. Historically, this grape was considered rustic, thanks to the many chunky, musclebound wines it produced. As Justin Bubb states: “Most of the time, I found that Nero d'Avola in Sicilia was made in this really ripe, high-octane style and the wines lacked freshness and punch.” Hence, Babo’s Nero is sourced from Sambuca di Sicilia, near Menfi, where the north-facing, fossil-rich soils and cooling influence of the sea and nearby Lake Arancio tend to produce a more subtle, spicy style of Nero d'Avola—without betraying the wine’s traditional Mediterranean generosity. 

Picked around 13 Baumé, the fruit was destemmed—with lots of whole berries remaining in the ferment—and fermented in small one-tonne fermenters. Extraction was gentle, and the wine was pressed off skins after 12 days to mature for 10 months in large-format French oak (2,000-litre) before bottling. Despite the warm conditions, Justin Bubb has stayed true to the Babo style and delivered a Nero of depth and spice buoyed by fresh fruit and flowers and framed by vibrant structure. Sold.

Babo Nero d'Avola 2020
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Babo Rosato 2021
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Babo Rosato 2021

This Tuscan Rosato is crafted from 100% Sangiovese sourced from a vineyard near Vinci on the western flank of the Chianti region. The soils are compact clay and limestone, alberese in the local vernacular. Winemaker Justin Bubb prefers the Sangiovese Grosso clone for his Rosato, favouring its more restrained fruit profile and savoury nuance. The fruit spends two to four hours on skins before fermenting and six months’ maturation on fine lees in concrete tanks.

Expect a textural, punchy, crisp Italian rosé with a delightful palate of silky berries and a dab of spice, with lovely savoury support and closing with a mouth-watering cherry skin bite. If you can get your hands on some Finocchiona, all the better.

Babo Rosato 2021
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Babo Soave 2021
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Babo Soave 2021

The youngest member of La Famiglia Babo, this Soave is crafted from Garganega and a small parcel of Trebbiano di Soave, both sourced from volcanic vineyards in Bardolino and Valpolicella. After a gentle press and a short maceration on skins to bring more texture and complexity, Justin Bubb ferments the juice in stainless steel, and the wine is matured on light lees for five months.

Soave’s long road to redemption is well under way, and now Babo has joined the fray. It’s a really smart first release that summons up welcoming scents of citrus, stone fruits and meadow flowers. The palate is juicy, vibrant and superbly balanced with a textured mouthfeel flecked by touches of salt, wax and almond. Like all Babo's wines, it’s terrifically lively, versatile, and perfect for a crowd. It drinks well as an aperitif, but shellfish pasta or roasted asparagus (with plenty of Parmesan) would be our go-to.

Babo Soave 2021
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