De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2005
|Our Correspondent||Nov 21, 2007|
De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2005
Yarra Valley, Australia
Established in 1928 by Vittorio & Giuseppina De Bortoli, the De Bortoli vineyards grew considerably under the guise of their son Deen De Bortoli, and are now one of the largest family-owned wineries in Australia. The third generation of winemakers, Darren De Bortoli and his brother-in-law Steve Webber have also put their stamp on the company. Darren is the creator of the acclaimed Noble One dessert wine and Steve recently was named by Gourmet Traveler Wine magazine “2007 Winemaker of the Year.” The consistently high quality with De Bortoli wines is extraordinary considering their size and vast range. Even more commendable is their commitment to sustainable vineyard practices and a genuine concern for the environment. Of particular merit are their Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, under the guidance of talented young winemaker Bill Downie, who was named Young Winemaker of the Year 2006, and is known for his obsession with the Pinot Noir grape.
Terroir (= total vineyard environment) & Vintage Synopsis
Situated in the Yarra Valley, about 45km east of the States capital, Melbourne, Dixon’s Creek is in the northern part of the valley at the base of the Great Dividing Range and at around 110 to 160 meters above sea-level, which is known to be a drier, slightly warmer micro-climate. Contrary to Australia’s sunburnt image, this is distinctly cool-climate vineyard territory, cooler than Bordeaux and ideally suited to Pinot Noir. Soils comprise clay loam over weathered rock tending to be low in fertility and translating to lower yields. Yields were also lower in the relatively cool, dry 2005 vintage, considered to a very good year in these parts. The most significant factor for this particular vineyard is the age of the vines; MV4 and MV5 clones planted in 1971 that are much lower yielding, producing highly concentrated fruit. These are amongst the oldest vines in the resurgent Yarra Valley, where the first vines were planted in the region in 1832.
Gentle, low-intervention techniques are employed here to ensure the wine expresses its terroir, or sense of place. The fruit is hand-picked into small 8kg buckets, de-stemmed and whole berries are allowed to ferment under natural yeasts (wild yeast fermentation) in open vats with the occasional gentle plunge towards the end of fermentation to release more juices. After 21 days on skins the wine is pressed, settled overnight and gravity-filled (no pumps used) to barrel where it matures for 10 months, then is racked by gravity and filled to bottle without fining or filtration. While handling is minimal, it is very much a winemaking process that is heavily influenced by the Burgundy region, requiring an intimate knowledge and technical skill.
Sappy and seductive perfume with intense red cherry and raspberry amongst dried mushroom, autumnal undergrowth, tobacco and herbal-dried-thyme nuances; there is a hint of spearmint freshness in the acidity and spicy overtones with subtle mocha from toasty oak. Tangy and savory on palate entry although turning sweeter with red cherry and strawberry fruit mid-palate with a silky smooth texture. There is excellent tension from the lively acidity that marries the fruit with a tantalizing sweet and sour interplay of crunchy raspberry and red currant, with sappy green tea tannins and green olive herbal-savory farewell that lingers with a spicy glow. A beautifully elegant and classy old world style Pinot Noir that does not tire one from over-sweetness, a common trait of new world.
Serving & Food Pairing
Pinot Noirs of this elegance and vitality perform best with a little chill on them, not cold, but around 15 degrees Celsius, just enough to take the edge off and enhance the freshness. You should use a balloon shaped glass, ideally a Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass so you can enjoy the perfume. This wine would be very versatile with Asian food, having the lightness in body yet plenty of fruit power and acidity. I can envisage it with a Thai style deep-fried whole fish with chili sauce, or Chinese Roast Duck within a Red Curry.
It would also pair well with western style roasted chicken or rabbit served with morels or wild mushrooms.
Longevity & Price Point
Drinking superbly already, although showing its best after breathing for an hour or so suggesting it would benefit greatly from another two or three years yet it has the structure and acidity to go on for another five to eight, and as it is safely sealed under screwcap and conceivably see out 10 years in good cellaring conditions.
Price point? It’s a question of finding the wine first. The cellar door price in Australia is A$38 per bottle (inclusive of local taxes) which represents exceptional value as this wine, would run rings around many lesser Burgundy appellations at twice the price. However, it is perplexing that most of the De Bortoli Importers in Asia do not list the Estate Grown Pinot Noir. Indeed Pinot Noir hardly features at all in their respective ranges, yet this is the red grape variety that pairs most successfully with Asian cuisine in general. Therefore, ring the agent in your country and request they get with the program.
Hong Kong: Concord Fine Wines, 852 2111 3008, www.concordwines.com.hk
Taiwan: Allen Wine & Spirits, Ph: 886 2 2705 0245
India: Aspri Spirits, Ph: 91 22 26401997, www.aspri.org
Thailand: Strategic Catering, Ph: 662 2261 4401, www.strategiccatering.com
Singapore, Malaysia: Cornerstone wines, Ph: 65 6732 0555 www.cornerstonewines.com
Indonesia: Commodore Trading Co., Ph: 02 9476 3510
Japan: Farmstone, Ph: 03 3761 5354, www.farmstone.com
The Yarra Valley is Australia’s premier destination for wine tourism, within easy reach of the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne, an excellent base for touring the region. Either drive yourself or go by personalized tour, www.yarravalleywinerytours.com.au. Or you may choose to stay at the many charming bed and breakfast or farm stays, www.visityarravalley.com.au. The Healesville Hotel also has excellent accommodation and dining and they operate an impressive farm stay called Harvest Farm, www.healesvillehotel.com.au, www.harvestfarm.com.au. Lunch at De Bortoli’s superb cellar door restaurant is a must, and equally so, a visit to the Tarrawarra Art Museum, www.twma.com.au. For information on the regions wineries, visit www.wineyarravalley.com.
“Life is filling in time between meals… and a meal without wine could only be breakfast”
Curtis Marsh – The Wandering Palate