30 years ago the Patriarch of the Ruffilli family left his Italian home to travel to Australia with not much more than his viticulture background.  He came to Australia with the ambition o make wine and thus he made his way to McLaren Vale full of ambition.  This is why the estate label has the word Ambition.

Today they have about 58 acres under vine in the Willunga and Sellicks areas.  The grapes are made into wine under contract with a majority sold as bulk wine and the best grapes and wine selected for the estates Ambition label.  Grape varieties grown are:-

  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet
  • Grenache
  • Merlot
  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling

Currently there is a focus on red wine releases under a Reserve and Estates labels.

Up to now these wines have been sold to restaurants but there is a move to retail sales.  Check out their web site here.


I will be placing these wines on the Taste McLaren Vale red wine sales page as well.

2009 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Cabernet Merlot

More complex than I was expecting – herbs of mint, lavender, Rosemary and thyme combined with blackcurrent fruit wrapped with an envelope of unobtrusive oak tannin.  There is a slight hint of greenness and a small donut effect.  The donut effect of Cabernet is where the mid palate flavours diminish in the middle of the wine.  It is here but only just.  When left to breathe the secondary flavours and aromas of chocolate and licorice come through.  The chocolate here defines the mid palate and thus no donut!  Definitely a food wine maybe a rabbit and root vegetable casserole.  One to watch out for and to keep – if you can.

2010 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Shiraz

The aromas were dominated by blackberries and red liquorice mixed with a sense of dustiness on the nose.  I was please to taste minimal oak influence and straight after opening I got blackberries, chocolate and lingering cloves.  There is some smokiness and I felt there was an influence of residual sugar.  After opening I left the wine for a day with the air evacuated and the difference was just – WOW.  No longer a sense of residual sugar but now it was all about the milk chocolate – layers and layers of it.  This will wine needs time – time in the glass or bottle.  This patience will be worth it.

2009 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Reserve Cabernet

Upon first opening I got the sense this was more a dry red wine style more than a classical Cabernet.  McLaren Vale seems to make a number of these wines.  However after a few hours of breathing the wine took on a whole new character.  The fruit was all black – current, berry and cherry with a hint of the mint one expects from good Cabernet.  On the back palate there was a hit of drying tannin which was saying to me the wine would like some more time in the bottle.  What also impressed me was what was not there – greenness.  A number of Cabernet wines seem too green for me – herbaceous and capsicum flavours have little place in a glass I want to consume.  So this wine was alright by me.

2009 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Reserve Shiraz

Not tasted.