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Dal Zotto: a fresh spin on Prosecco & a lovely Australian Garganega

Christian & Michael Dal Zotto of Dal Zotto wines

The Guardian recently featured an article entitled “Save your teeth – and six other reasons to give up Prosecco.”  Is the (40 million litre) bubble bursting?  Or maybe it’s time for a different take?  For example Dal Zotto’s dry, vinous, traditionally-styled example of Glera (as the Prosecco grape is know outside its Italian region of birth).  

I caught up with winemaker Michael Dal Zotto (right) and his brother Christian (left), the marketeer at importer Red Squirrel’s tasting on Tuesday.   Note the fine teeth, by the way – no Prosecco smiles there!

It was a timely meeting because I’m presenting Dal Zotto’s Arneis at Wine Australia’s One Day Wine School in Belfast next week, so I hoovered up and share below a bit background on the family’s vineyards and winemaking.  Here are my notes on the white wines (my highlights):

Dal Zotto Pucino Col Fondo 2014 (King Valley, Victoria)

Founder Otto Dal Zotto (Michael’s and Christian’s dad) hails from Valdobbiadene, in the heart of Prosecco country.  He emigrated to Australia in 1967 and, like many King Valley settlers, played around with vines for home consumption, growing tobacco for business.  Until that market crashed, which is when vines came to the fore.  “Col Fondo,” sealed under crown cap, references the traditional Italian style of Prosecco, where the base wine (made from grapes dried to 22 baume) is made on lees and unfiltered (hence a little cloudy) and the press juice is used to kick start the second fermentation (wild ferment) in bottle.  This is a vinous fizz, with an initial assault of bubbles but then much calmer, focused, intense and interesting, with well-defined just ripe pear fruit and a granular, sandstone texture.  It’s dry, with good freshness – indeed quite tight and long.  A world away from the commercial stuff.  I liked it.  Refreshing in every sense of the word.  Michael told me that the fruit comes from vineyards at 250, 300, 320 and 400m above sea level, several kilometres apart (the King Valley follows the undulating progress of the King River and vineyards rise from 155m to over 800m at Whitlands – the high point, which allows producers to play with a range of varieties and wine styles – from fizz to still, white to red).  12%  £26 at Red Squirrel.

Dal Zotto Arneis 2016 (King Valley, Victoria)

I wrote up the 2015 earlier in the year.  The follow on vintage comes from a vineyard at 330m planted in 2000.  The grapes are small with a high skin to juice ratio so only the free run – c 550l/t –  is pressed and vinified on the lees in stainless steel.  Once again I find the aniseed quality so redolent of this Piedmontese grape, with nice persistence – good acidity – and a funky, savoury, nutty, leesy edge.  Well done. £23 at Red Squirrel

Dal Zotto Garganega 2015 (King Valley, Victoria)

The fruit comes from a grower located opposite the winery at around 300m.  Michael worked vintage at Tommasi in Soave, the Veneto.  He has been making wine from Garganega (Soave’s best grape) for just 4 years, but I feel he really captures the grape with some Australian generosity in the mix.  Dal Zotto told me it is vigorous in the vineyard and, left to its own devices, would crop at 15t/ha, so “you have to be very diligent in the vineyard.”  One third of this deliciously balanced wine is aged in old oak and it has lovely texture and weight, with a fresh almond nuttiness which does not detract from this wine’s thrust or fruit.  Lingering, with lovely mouthfeel and persistence.  My pick of the bunch. 13.3% £23 at Red Squirrel (2014 vintage, reviewed here).

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