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First taste: Dal Zotto Garganega & Arneis

This time next week I shall be in Mildura, Australia, gearing up for three days of judging at the Australian Alternative Variety Wine Show.  This year, there are a record-breaking number of entries made from over 100 so-called alternative varieties.  If I can be sure of one thing, it is to expect the unexpected!

That said, the varietal range of Australian wines imported into the UK has broadened significantly in the last five years.  UK importer/retailer Red Squirrel specialise in ‘out of the box’ wines, so it’s no surprise that their portfolio features a number of wines made from Australian Alternative Varieties.  From the King Valley – Australia’s traditional home of Italian varietal wines – these include a couple of impressive whites from Dal Zotto.   They spoke to me more than the reds (a 2014 Barbera and Sangiovese).

Dal Zotto Garganega 2014 (King Valley)

Red Squirrel’s founder Nik Darlington described this wine as “far better than Australian Garganega deserves to be.”  I know exactly what he means.   I am not sure how long it has been planted in Australia (not long, I imagine), but I do know that this was Dal Zotto’s first release of Soave’s most famous grape.  And it was my first taste of an Australian example.  Dal Zotto Garganega 2014 ticked all the boxes for a premium Soave (textural, nutty and savoury), whilst planting its very own Australian thumbprint on the wine (sweet lemony/lemon peel fruit).   Well balanced acidity makes for a lingering finish. Lots to like here.

Dal Zotto Arneis 2016 (King Valley)

Pretty hot off the press, this is a very expressive, aromatic, pure, clean and fruity Arneis.  It has lashings of the lifted aniseed character – I’m thinking Pastis – which I associate with examples from the Langhe, Piedmont.  Also their pear fruit, albeit here fleshier.  But it’s still very juicy, bright and persistent, with lovely balance going through.  Well done.

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