Deen de Bortoli VAT Series – 2011 VAT 2 Sauvignon Blanc

December 30, 2011

One of the nicest Sauvignon Blanc blends I had so far this summer is the ‘2011 Deen de Bortoli VAT 2 Sauvignon Blanc’ by de Bortoli Wines.

This is a fresh and clean wine with strong herbal and tropical fruit flavours. The wine is medium bodied and low in alcohol (12%).

About 50 % of the grapes for this brand come from old vineyards in the Riverina region in South Eastern Australia; the other half comes from the cool climate King Valley in Victoria.

As you probably know, 2011 was a difficult year for wine makers all over Australia. First, there was so much rain, second there was so much pressure from fungal diseases and third not all grapes would ripen perfectly.

We enjoyed the wine with a pasta with mussels and chorizo. The perfect choice.

Life is just beautiful.

Summer wine – Sauvignon Blanc from Australia and New Zealand

December 28, 2011

2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Pizzini, King Valley

Apart from Riesling, I also love Sauvignon Blanc wines. Summer is the ideal seasons to savour them. We had bought a couple of bottles from various origins from our local grocery shop.

Two of these wines I want to introduce to you today. The two could not be more different. The first is a ‘2011 Sauvignon Blanc’ by Pizzini in the King Valley, a cool climate wine region in Northeastern Victoria.

These days low alcohol wines are very much en vogues, especially white wines. The Pizzini SB is one of them (11% alcohol). 2011 was a difficult vintage in Victoria. That somehow also shows in this wine. It is a bit “muted” in my view, but still enjoyable. I love the apple aromas and the well balanced acidity.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Tokoeka Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand

The second wine could not be more different from the first. The ‘2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve’ from Tokoeka Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand has 13.5% vol. alcohol.

It displays the full herbaceous character of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is round and complex and has a long finish. The wine is clean, crisp and the acids are elegantly balanced.

Amazing what one can do with SB grapes.

Back on the farm – heaven on a stick

December 21, 2011

We are back on the farm for our Christmas vacation. Yesterday was my first full day. After a long flight from Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia via Beijing, China and Bangkok, Thailand, I had finally gotten to Melbourne. My family picked me up and off we went to Glenburn which we reach at about midnight.

I had traveled a fair bit to get back to Australia, not only distance wise. But Mongolia had minus 37 Celsius (Beijing minus eight) and it went to about 26 plus in Bangkok. The Melbourne night was cool and I slept like a baby in our shed in the countryside about 2 hours north of the Victorian capital.

It is so quiet out here. The night is very dark. We are out in the countryside and one does not see many people. I worked a bit around the house. After that we had our first family meal together. I tell you it was just sensational to have a zucchini paste and an insalata caprese.

Look at the two pictures below, doesn’t the food look delicious?

What about the wine, you might ask?

No, we did not have a Two Hills Merlot with the meal, but instead….

Zucchini pasta

Insalata caprese

….we had a ‘2008 Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay’ blend by Paul Bettio from the King Valley.

I am not a fan of a SB-Chardonnay blends in general. I prefer the two varieties as single grape wines. But this medium dry wine was just a great refreshing drink. The tropical and citrus fruit flavours went very well with the light pasta and the salad.

The King Valley is one of my favourite cool climate wine regions in Victoria. I will tell you more about its wines at a later stage.

2008 Paul Bettion Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay

Sunday at the Yarra Glen Hotel

November 6, 2009

One of the great things to do on a weekend in the Yarra Valley is to attend one of the many life music events. I especially love the music on a Sunday afternoon at the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel. First of all the food is quite good and second the venue is very suitable for the occasion provided there is not too much wind rattling the tent in which the bands perform.

Moreover, the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel is a beautiful historic building, a landmark in Yarra Glen, with it’s tower which is visible from many parts of the valley, it really stands out.

We had lunch and eagerly awaited the Bob Starkie Band which was to play in the afternoon. Bob Starkie is well known in Melbourne. He used to be one of the members of the legendary Skyhooks in the 1970s, a cult band in Melbourne. One of their top hits was “Women in Uniform”.

But first came the food.



The food was hearty and very tasty, as the two pictures above show. The wines we had with it were excellent examples of the local wine culture.

We had a bottle of ‘2006 Mandala Chardonnay’ from the Yarra Valley and a bottle of ‘2005 Dal Zotto Barbera’ from Whitefield in the King Valley, a neighboring wine region with very good cool climate wines.

Both wines were excellent and very enjoyable. The 2003 vintage of the Dal Zotto Barbera was given 90 points. The Dal Zotto family with a proud Italian heritage is well known for their quality wines. Their Italian varietal wines made from Barbera, Arneis and Sangiovese grapes have won high acclaim. Also their prosecco is commendable. The high altitude of the King Valley and its cool climate seems to be very suitable for those Italian varietals.

Owned by the Smedly family, Mandala Wines is located just a few kilometers up the highway, north of Yarra Glen. The cellar door and restaurant (open for lunch Thursday to Sunday and dinner on Saturday evenings) used to be “Henkel Vineyard” but has been redone completely. I love the design of the label, a huge mandala, which changes colour on the website, and expresses the philosophy of the owner on life and wine-making.


Mandala Chardonnay


Dal Zotto Barbera

And then the music started. The Bob Starkie Band promised exciting entertainment. They did not disappoint playing many of the classical Skyhooks songs. It did not take long and the dance floor was crowded with rural folks moving and shaking. There is nothing better then a dance on a Sunday afternoon. It also makes sure that one is clear headed on a Monday morning. We had great fun. I can only highly recommend it to the accidental traveler. If in the Yarra Valley look out for live music events



Bob Starkie

Yarra Valley GRAND Hotel
Bell Street, Yarra Glen, VIC. 3775
Tel.: 03-9730 1230
int: +61 3 9730 2434
fax: 03 9730 2434

1568 Melba Highway Dixons Creek Yarra Valley Victoria 3775
Tel. +61 3 5965 2016
Fax: +61 3 5965 2589

Dal Zotto Wines
Main Rd, Whitfield,
King Valley, Vic 3733 Australia
Tel.: +61-3-57 298 321
Fax +61-3 57 298 490

Wine tasting: Upper Goulburn selection

July 30, 2009


Three of the four wines

When up on our vineyard in Glenburn, Central Victoria we do not only drink our own wine, but sample also quite a few, mainly local wines. Some of them I have introduced to you before (Rees Miller Estate and Kinloch Wines).

The four wines, we tried recently, were the following:

Lost Valley Winery, ‘2004 Hazy Mountain Merlot’ (14.0% alc.), from the Upper Goulburn
Mount Samaria, ‘2005 Shiraz Cabernet’ (13.5% alc.), Upper Goulburn
Girdwood Estate, ‘2005 Pinot Noir’ (16.0% alc.!!!), Alexandra, Upper Goulburn

The fourth wine came from the King Valley, just north west of The Upper Goulburn wine region.

DALZOTTO, ‘2002 Cabernet Sauvignon’ (13.5% alc.), King Valley


Mount Samaria has a wombat on his label.

I do not want to describe each wine (I hate tasting notes), but a short summary is warranted.

Unfortunately, the Pinot Noir from Girwood Estate was somehow off. I had a strange smell and must somehow gone bad. We will have to try again.

I loved the Merlot from Lost Valley Winery. What a ripper wine with all the qualities of an excellent single variety wine. Also the Shiraz Cabernet from Mt. Samaria is a very nice wine and need to be praised. Both wines show that members of our association produce outstanding cool climate wines.

Also the King Valley wine from Dal Zotto was just lovely (excellent). It seems that we will not be able to visit this cool climate wine region during this visit. After the bush fires, there is just too much to do out here on our farm. Moreover, winter is an ideal time for cleaning up the bush, the land and the vineyard.

We will continue tasting various local wines. Soon more, stay tuned.