Asian Correspondent » De Bortoli Wines Asian Correspondent Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rosé Revolution Thu, 21 Oct 2010 01:16:26 +0000

For the last few years, my husband Steve and I have been totally committed to what we would call ‘proper’ Rosé, and we are not alone. We love the wines of Tempier and many other producers in Bandol and Provence and we love that it can be a serious wine, but not to be taken too seriously.

However, it can be confusing for consumers to know which are the drier, more savoury styles of Rosés as compared to the sweeter, lighter style. Both have their place but for us personally, we want to create interest in the dry, preferably pale pink, balanced Rosés.

Hence the Rosé Revolution. This has been set up to spread the message about beautiful, textural Rosé that is such a joy to drink and in the process, get more people enjoying this style of wine this season.

The Rosé Revolution is not meant to be elitist but rather about informing consumers on what to expect. A Rosé which is paler in colour should signify a dry, textural balanced wine. Let the very pink and irridescent colours speak their own message.

There are lots of exciting initiatives being planned to get everyone on board with tastings, dinners, Rosé and food matching, taste’n’tweets and so on. A website is currently in production but in the meantime click here for the facebook page  or click here for the twitter link

To kick off the celebrations, there is an international Taste and Tweet  on the 30th November 2010, just before the official start of the Australian summer. 

You can participate in the fun too. Buy a bottle (or two) of Rosé to share with some friends and jump onto facebook and/or twitter to join the chatter on all things pink.


Leanne De Bortoli

Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

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Yarra Valley, cool shiraz Mon, 18 Oct 2010 11:12:20 +0000

Australian Shiraz

Shiraz has been the mainstay of Australian wine for many years. In the last few years it had gained a certain notoriety in the USA for wines of power, high alcohol and oak. Whilst some of these wines were interesting, some verged too far to the dark side. But the pendulum is now swinging back to a more balanced style and we are now seeing more interesting (and drinkable) styles that are reflective of their regions without being overpowered by excessive oak and alcohol. We have reason to be proud of these wines, whether they are from the Hunter Valley, Barossa, McLaren Vale and the Yarra Valley (amongst others).

Yarra Valley Shiraz

The Yarra Valley has historically been more well-known for chardonnay , pinot noir and cabernet but can now add cool-climate shiraz to its list of compelling wines. In the past we have seen some very fine examples of shiraz from vineyards like Seville Estate and Yarra Yering, with more recent additions from wineries like Mayer Wines, Jamsheed, Yering Station and De Bortoli. These wines are different from other regions as they are defined by cool-climate viticulture along with the characteristics of the Yarra Valley.

De Bortoli Shiraz

From our own vineyards, we make different styles of shiraz (or syrah as we call our high-end wine) under  Gulf Station Range (100% Yarra Valley), Yarra Valley Estate (all De Bortoli vineyard grown) and our Yarra Valley Reserve Release (from one rather special block in our main vineyard). From our Hunter Valley vineyard we make a beautiful medium-bodied wine under our Hunter Valley Wills Hill Shiraz. Added to these are other interesting wines under our Windy Peak and Deen Vat Series.

Here is a photographic summary of what goes into making our Yarra Valley Reserve Release Syrah… bare feet and all….


The old hill Shiraz block consistently delivers excellent quality fruit, producing only 4.4 tonnes per hectare (= 30 hectolitres per hectare) from vines planted in 1971. The fruit was hand-picked on the 1st/ 2nd of March, 2010, coming into the winery in small crates at 12.8 Baume. It is placed onto the sorting table so that only the pristine fruit makes it into the open fermentation vats. Approximtely 30 percent of the fruit is destemmed and 70 percent is whole bunches  – just very lightly foot-pressed. No added yeast is needed as fermentation occurs naturally from the ambient yeast. In the photo above taken two weeks later, winemaker Steve Webber helps with the plunging. After fermentation, the wine is pressed out, transferred to a tank for settling and in early April transferred into barrels. Now it is time to be patient as we wait for the shiraz to mature in French oak barrels . And we wait….



Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


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Celebrating good food & wine Mon, 11 Oct 2010 06:53:46 +0000

De Bortoli wines was started by my grandfather, Vittorio De Bortoli, in 1928 and is now in the hands of my three brothers and myself as third generation family members.


Italian Family values

We live by our company philosophy (embodied in our family crest) of Semper Ad Majora – ‘Always striving for better’. Our goal is to make wines that are interesting yet approachable and to continue my grandfathers dream of making wine a part of everyday life, accessible and enjoyable for all.


Italian family values passed down from Vittorio remain as core values for our family. There is a culture of hard work, generosity of spirit and of course, sharing good food and good wine with family and friends.


Locale Restaurant

Food and wine have such an inexorable link that we can’t (or wont) do one without the other. At our Yarra Valley vineyard, we have an Italian-style restaurant called Locale that has been in operation for over 20 years. For us it is all about showcasing our wines with food. Tim Keenan, our head chef makes delicious food, sourcing as much locally as he can, growing as much as he can and relying on good produce from reliable sources. For the same reason we have set up a cheese shop and maturation room within our Cellar Door Sales. I must say, it speaks volumes to see the contented look on customers faces after dining in the restaurant! Click here for video on Locale restaurant.


A Recipe To Try At Home

Here is a recipe from my mother Emeri De Bortoli, who is the most fabulous cook. This has been a staple of our family for many years and is enjoyed by young and old alike.




Serves approx 6-8


1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

200g minced beef

50 g chicken giblets

60 g chicken livers

1 onion finely chopped

1 stalk of celery finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/3 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup water or chicken stock

1 teaspoon parsley finely chopped

Freshly ground pepper

Salt to taste



2-3 cups  arborio rice (depending on whether you want a soupy or dry risotto)

2 litres chicken stock (add more if needed.)*

50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese

1-2 tablespoons butter (optional but gives risotto a creamy finish)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve.



Melt butter in saucepan, add oil, onion and celery. Sauté gently until onion is clear. Add  mince, liver and giblets. Cook over low heat stirring for about 15 minutes or until meat is cooked. Add tomato paste, wine, stock, salt and pepper and parsley. Cook for approx. 1½ hours simmering until sauce is clear. (At this point you can turn off heat and ladle sauce into containers and freeze for later use). Place ½ cup sauce (or more according to taste) in a larger saucepan, add rice stirring till coated. Then gradually add warmed stock  (heat in saucepan on stove or in microwave) stirring from time to time until rice is cooked and has absorbed the liquid.*More liquid may be added to make a soupier risotto. This is how we like it. Rice takes approx. 20 minutes to cook – it must be creamy without being mushy.Just before serving remove the pot from the stove and stir in butter and a little Parmesan cheese.


Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, crusty bread and a green salad. Enjoy with a glass of Windy Peak Sangiovese or Melba Lucia

Buon appetito


Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at 


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Say Cheese! Mon, 04 Oct 2010 19:15:19 +0000

Yarra Valley Cheese Shop Visitors to our Yarra Valley Cellar Door are very fortunate. As one of the few wineries to have our own cheese maturation room and cheese shop, customers can enjoy a wide range of wines and taste some superbly aged cheese. Click here to visit the Cheese Shop on our website

A few years ago, we invited well-known cheese maker, Richard Thomas, to design a maturation room and to become our very own in-house affineur (a specialist who ripens and matures cheese). He designed a room that is as close to cave-like as possible; it provides the perfect constant temperature (11 degrees) and humidity (95%) needed to mature cheese perfectly. No moving parts and no forced air.

Click here for the video on the Cheese shop

Richard purchases Australian and international cheese which are kept in the maturation room until deemed ready for tasting and sale. Our staff also encourage visitors to Cellar Door to taste different wine/cheese combinations and it is a joy to see their expressions when they see what works exceptionally well.

Traditionally the assumption was that cheese is paired with red wine toward the end of the evening. In our tastings, it is often not the red wine that complements a particular cheese, but rather a sparkling wine, or even a dessert wine. Next time you’re planning a wine and cheese selection, why not experiment a little. There are many websites that give suggestions of which wines to have with which cheese. Just google wine and cheese matching and have a little fun with your friends.

Some of our favourite wine and Cheese matches?

  • From Australia – Meredith marinated goats cheese and De Bortoli Estate Grown Sauvignon or Sparkling Rococo.
  • From France – Fresh goats cheese from the Loire Valley. Len Evans once said ‘my idea of hell would be marooned on a desert island, with goat cheese and sauvignon blanc’. That was, of course, before our Yarra Valley Sauvignon!
  • Blue cheese like Rocquefort or Stilton match beautifully with a sweet botrytis dessert wine like our Noble One. Mmmm, truly a match made in heaven.
  • Valdeon, another blue cheese from Northern Spain. Often a mix of cow, sheep and goats milk, naturally blued in the limestone caves. Try with Black Noble, our glorious fortified version of Noble One.
  • Heidi Raclette. Made in Tasmania, this Swiss-style washed rind is traditionally melted over steamed potatoes. When ripened with care, Heidi Raclette is an Australian triumph in cooking or as a table cheese. It fits nicely with either a soft Pinot Noir or Beajolais style, or an unwooded white or late-picked styles.
  • Grana Padano, a hard cheese from partially skimmed unpasteurised Cows milk. An ancient cheese from North Italy. The sweet / salt tang makes it a great wine match, from sweet whites to dry reds. Try it with our Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier or for something different,
  • Cheddar Cloth-matured. Traditionally wrapped in calico to preserve the rind this cheese adopts a ‘wet bag’ flavour with an open flaky texture unlike modern vacuum packed cheddars. Softer reds and aged fortified muscats are most suited to this cheese.
  • Cheers Leanne Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

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    Australia’s First Families of Wine Thu, 30 Sep 2010 05:21:16 +0000


    Have you heard of Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW)?

    If not, expect to hear more about this exciting initiative, set up to celebrate all that is good about Australian wine.  There are 12 well-known family wineries who are part of this group representing 16 different wine regions and 1200 years of winemaking experience between us. Phew!

    The members include:

    • Brown Brothers
    • Campbells
    • D’Arenberg
    • De Bortoli
    • Henschke
    • Howard Park
    • Jim Barry
    • McWilliam’s
    • Tahbilk
    • Taylors
    • Tyrell’s
    • Yalumba

    Click here to go to the AFFW website.

    We all love a good party!

    The launch of AFFW was held in Sydney in 2009 at the iconic Opera House and attended by the elder statesmen (and women) of each family right through to the next generation. This was followed by a very successful week of tastings and dinners held in London just before the London International Wine Trade Fair in May. A chance to show off our best, our most iconic,  our interesting and downright quirky wines.



    Pride and Provenance

    AFFW is about provenance and people and it is about collectively singing the praises of Australian wine. What I love about this group is that it isn’t elitist but rather each family is humble yet proud of their wines, wines that are representative of their philosophy and their place. Through different events and tastings, it is our aim to share these stories and wines with Australia and the rest of the world.


    However for me personally, what excites me most is seeing the enthusiasm of the young next-genners, some of whom are already 5th  generation. These may well be the ones to lead Australian wine into its next exciting phase. Just think of the possibilities given the mature and well-tended vineyards they have at their disposal. Within the De Bortoli family, our next-genners are still quite young but the eldest, who is my daughter Kate, has had the opportunity to meet her peers and share stories of what life is like growing up in a family winery.


    For more on AFFW, check out the website or join the chitchat on twitter@AFFWine and  facebook Australian first families of wine



    Leanne De Bortoli

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at



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    Who makes the best Salami? Tue, 28 Sep 2010 09:55:07 +0000


    From Italy…..

    Ask any Italian and they will tell you that their family makes THE BEST salami. Ask any Italian and you will get a different recipe for how they make their salami. If they are from the south, they’ll have a higher meat to fat ratio. If they are from the north they’ll have a higher fat to meat ratio. If they are from Abruzzo, they add fennel to their salami and so on and so on.

    …to Australia…..

    For me, growing up in an Italian community in Australia meant that we would never go lacking for good, home-made salami. Years pass and some traditions have died but salami making is still as strong as ever. When I moved from Griffith (southern NSW) to the Yarra Valley (Victoria), I would receive my ‘care’ packages from my mother; with her free-range eggs, olives and of course, salami.

    …to the Yarra Valley

    A few years ago, my husband Stephen and I, decided to ‘grow’ our own pig on our Yarra Valley vineyard to make our own salami. What a hoot we had!  Since that first year we now have six pigs. They may not have a long life on this earth but it is a good life. They have free range on good pasture, supplemented by vegies and grain and towards the end of the season, acorns from our oak trees. What a blessed life they lead.

    In celebration of provenance

    For the last couple of years we have expanded our salami days to include family, friends and friends of friends. Held in June of each year it has turned into a veritable feast with music, hands-on salami making, wine on tap and a delicious luncheon spread. It is a joyous occasion as it should be, a real sense of community in celebration of the provenance of our food.

    To check out the video of our salami-making celebration… on the photo below. (1min 22 sec)


    As for who makes the best salami…..we do!!



    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


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    Australian Chardonnay – Celebrating wines of interest Fri, 24 Sep 2010 06:29:24 +0000

    Stephen Webber, De Bortoli Wines winemaker in the Yarra Valley, hosted the Chardonnay masterclass on the final day of the Landmark Australia Tutorial 2010.

    From the Landmark website…

    “Anyone knowing Steve would expect nothing less than a confronting start: “I want my Chardonnay to taste of the dirt that it has been grown in, not simple varietal character.  I just think that there are more interesting things to reflect in wine: texture, feel, and dare I say it, ‘minerality’…”

    Steve, accompanied on the panel by Virginia Willcock of Vasse Felix, presented 14 blind wines that he felt were taking Chardonnay to a new height. “Wines with detail” as Steve likes to call them…

    In terms of capturing ‘detail’ and place, Steve highlighted the importance of getting acidity right in the vineyard; moving towards more hand-picking; improved fruit-handling; larger format oak…'”

    Click on the photo below for a list of the wines tasted as well as hear Steve’s view on Australian Chardonnay.

    One of Steve’s comments to Paul Henry from Wine Australia was there are wines that I enjoy that are slightly imperfect because they have got this character about them that isn’t airbrushed, that isn’t perfect“. And Paul’s final comment..So there you are, changing the orthodoxy – celebrating interest rather than perfection in wine’ . I couldn’t agree more!

    Join in the conversation. If you have any comments on Australian Chardonnay, whether you like them or not, or what styles you like, I would love to hear from you. You can write your  comments on our De Bortoli wines facebook page, my twitter page Twitter@DeBortoliWines , or email me at

    I look forward to hearing your comments.


    visit our website

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    From Wine Australia and Malaysia, all for the love of good wine Thu, 23 Sep 2010 04:56:56 +0000

    A visit from Wine Australia…

    This week has been a busy week for Wine Australia, hosting the 2010 Landmark Australia Tutorial, right here in the Yarra Valley.  It is a great opportunity for Australia to showcase its diversity and strengths in winemaking to some well noted wine writers and wine afficionados from Australia and overseas. We are pleased to be able to host them here at our winery for this afternoon’s tasting on ‘Single Vineyards, Sacred Sites and Regional Blends’.

    I won’t go into it much here. You can follow the general chatter on twitter (just remember to type in #lat10) to be involved in the general conversation. Otherwise there is much being written on blogs and Facebook about the event. As for me, I am just a little envious of some of the wines being tasted; truly a mix between traditional, iconic, new, interesting and downright funky.

    …and Malaysia.

    Today, we also played host to Francis Chan from our Malaysian Agents, Albert Wines, who is visiting us along with some of his staff and customers. They hail from Kuala Lumpur and for many of them it is their first visit to Australia and to the Yarra Valley.  It is a great time to visit the Yarra, which is looking particularly green and vibrant, with budburst adding to the excitement of Spring. Of course the biggest highlight is the wine!!



    Our Malaysian visitors enjoying some  hospitality in our restaurant. Nikki Palun, De Bortoli Asia Export Manager  is on the far right. Photo taken September 23.




    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


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    What’s bugging us…. Sun, 19 Sep 2010 05:27:39 +0000

    In our genuine attempts to move towards a more biological/symbiotic form of farming we are continually trialing different methods in our vineyard.

    Spring is underway and we are about to sow a variety of undervine plants in our vineyard.  By doing this we provide a healthy ground cover to out-compete the weeds and also move away from a monoculture (just vines). The more diversity of plants, helpful insects, fungi and bacteria that we have within our soils, means an overall healthier system.

    Trialing undervine plants

    We are trialing 5 plant species this year, one native and 4 exotics; native Dichondra (or kidney weed as it is known), Alpine Strawberry, Allysum, Creeping Thyme and Roman Chamomile.

    Each ground cover will be planted separately in this trial but we may want to mix them in the future. Our criteria for choosing undervine plants is based on essentially matching the right plant to be of benefit to the grapevines – low growing and similar to the vines own biology.

    Photo taken Sept 15th. Andrew Clarke cultivating the vineyard in preparation for the trial

    The Good…

    We are also currently tracking down plants that come from the areas in North America where phylloxera resistant rootstock parent vines grow naturally. We can assume that these plants like to grow in the same soils and have the same soil biology as rootstock vines.

    Other important criteria:

    • It must not become a noxious weed that we cannot control in the future
    • It is beneficial and has the same mycorrhizal  group as vines
    • It attracts beneficial insects
    • It does not impart unwanted ‘fragrances’ to the wine.
    • It does not compete for moisture and nutrients against the vines

    …The Bad….

    If we get it right, we negate the need for herbicides (evil!), or use of steam/flame throwers (expensive and short-term) or cultivation (destroys the exact soil biology and structure we are trying to enhance). Mulching is perhaps one of the better alternatives but we feel that the right undervine plants are the best option.

    …and the Bugs

    Although we are direct seeding under the vines, we are also growing many of these plants in our own hot house, effectively to be used in our insect plantations (bug banks) in long strips strategically placed around the vineyard.


    Photo of herbs and flowers to be planted into our ‘bugbanks’. This includes rosemary, parsley, thyme, hollyhock, snapdragons etc.

    Let’s see what happens!



    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

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    Has the drought finally broken? Wed, 15 Sep 2010 02:30:32 +0000

    In the last two months we have welcomed rain, lots of it,  to the Yarra Valley. Such a relief after the drought conditions that have affected us for the last few years.

    When we first moved to the Yarra Valley over 20 years ago, you could always guarantee that our dams would fill to brimming for the start of  the growing season. Not any more. Therefore to start our growing season this year with saturated soil and full dams is a very pleasing feeling indeed.

    These two photos illustrate just how dry it has been. This particular dam has not been full for about 10 years. So much so, that a tree started growing on the side of the dam some years ago and was able to grow with confidence, being near a good water supply.

    The photo was taken in August of this year as the dam started to fill again.  The poor tree is suffering from wet feet but at least the ducks are happy.


    This photo was taken today and shows the same tree, two-thirds under water……


    We are keeping our fingers crossed that perhaps….just perhaps….the drought has finally broken.

    Until next time,


    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

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    Wine with Imagination Mon, 13 Sep 2010 08:32:52 +0000

    Nasa and the APOLLO 1 Space Program

    A few years ago, my husband Steve (winemaker at our Yarra Valley Estate) returned from an overseas trip very much inspired by a conversation he had on a flight. He was speaking to a young business guru with an engineering background who said that not only was he looking for mining engineers with terrific skills in maths and physics, but the people that he needed to employ also had imagination

    He went on to talk to Steve about the NASA space program and how it really changed the scientific world, resulting in benefits for the community beyond the space program. Benefits included huge advances in computing, engine efficiencies, light-weight alloys, new materials etc, all made possible because of the belief in reaching for the stars!

    Failure of Imagination

    However it nearly did not happen because Apollo 1 (the first manned flight in 1967) caught fire before taking off due to a fairly simple error. There were calls to shut the program down and massive accountability accusations until a pilot simply said during the enquiry “it was a failure of imagination”. Such a simple phrase and yet it turned the enquiry around and put the space program back on track.

    Falling Star

    Now, how does this relate to wine?

    The greatest advances in the wine world will come from imagination, not science.  Character and personality in wine comes from nature and imagination.  In the past the new world has been obsessed with emphasising varietal character and trying to make perfect wines.  This has worked well and actually assisted Australia’s ‘star’ to shine on the World wine stage. However, after that meteoric rise, suddenly the wine world looked at its darling and decided she was perhaps somewhat ‘bland and boring’.

    Rising Star

    In recent years there has been a huge shift amongst many to turn the tide on this perception of our wines.  Many winemakers now realise that whilst it is important to have varietal expression, other characters like site, season, texture and minerality are equally important. For this reason, when we lessen the fruit intensity, sometimes we reflect these other qualities. And by seeking for character rather than perfection in wine, we are seeing more and more wines with personality. Sometimes it is the imperfections that make wine compelling.

    As for our take on all of this, we have placed enormous faith in our people to make wine that reflects our piece of dirt, to make wine with character and imagination and above all flair. It is one of the joys of being part of a family wine company, to grow and make what you want to drink!

    Wine with Flair



    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at 



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    Pinot Noir: One of the great joys in life… Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:46:52 +0000

    Pinot Noir is one of the great joys of wine. Fine, plump, alluring, detailed, perfume, delicious. Alongside Nebbiolo, it is the noblest of reds.

    Grown with great passion and feel, it is nurtured through ferment with minimal but considered winemaking and equally raised with a deft touch through winter and spring, finally to bottle.

    It is a wine with great intrigue. A wine that yells of place. It is delicate yet powerful. We love it, breathe it and enjoy drinking buckets of it.

    From Stephen Webber, chief winemaker at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate……

    Single Vineyard beauties

    We now make several single site Pinot Noirs that are all quite different. Riorret Single Vineyard, PHI, De Bortoli Reserve and De Bortoli Estate Grown wines. Handling of fruit, oak regimes and philosophy are all the same. The difference – place, soil and micro-climate!

    We established the Riorret brand about two years ago to make single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. There seemed to be so many beautiful and interesting sites in these two regions that we just couldn’t resist – The Abbey, Viggers, Merricks Grove and Balnarring (by the beach)!

    PHI is a joint venture between the De Bortoli and Shelmerdine families – similar philosophy; great site, old Pinot vines, Upper Yarra, deep red basalt soils, lovely people.

    The De Bortoli Reserve Pinot is a single 1 Hectare site, planted in 1971 from rare clones (MV4 and MV5). It is paler than all the Pinot Noir we make but oozing with power and charm. The Estate Grown Pinot Noir comes from 4 vineyards on the original winery site – our ‘village’ wine.

    We also vinify good commercial detailed Pinot Noir under our Gulf Station and Windy Peak brands. These are very difficult to make in large quantities – hand picking, gentle fruit handling, knowing when to do nothing, minimal oak inputs, just charming Pinot fruit driven wines.

    Well, if that doesn’t get you excited…..


    Experience a Pinot Noir tasting with Steve – click here to watch video

    De Bortoli Pinot Noirs

    De Bortoli Pinot Noirs


    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

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    Winemaking by numbers… Mon, 06 Sep 2010 06:14:01 +0000

    Winemaking by Numbers…

    We are often asked after vintage to give an overall view of the season. This is obviously compared to other regions, other seasons and then we are categorised with one or two sentences or a numerical standard that generalises the whole region.

    There is so much more to a wines’ pedigree than just a number. Wine is always full of ‘mystery and surprise’ and is reflective of site, soil, season and the sweat of those who’ve made it. The vintage conditions are only one of the many influences on a wine’s outcome.

    In a region like the Yarra Valley, which is, by its geographical definition, a very large wine region, there is no homogeneity. There are different soil types, weather conditions, micro-climates within micro-climates from one end of the valley to the other. The rainfall alone varies from 700mm to 2000mm per annum.

    Within De Bortoli’s own vineyards, there are significant and important differences and rather than blend these differences away, it is our intention to highlight and celebrate them.

    Searching for A+…

    A few years ago we started to look for the variances in different sections of our vineyards. Some produced astonishing wines, others just okay. We took into account the aspect, soil and suitability of the variety planted. We changed the way we cultivate many of the plots, modifying trellising and pruning techniques adopting biological farming practices but overall spending more time among the vines – shoot thinning, canopy shaping, hand picking and hand sorting.

    We have pulled out the under-performing vineyards, replanted some of them to new varieties and clones that are more suitable for the changing climate or just fixing some of our earlier mistakes – yes we’ve made plenty of them. All this has been done in the quest for our vineyards to start expressing more of their own character in the final wines.

    2010 will certainly go down as a milder, cooler and longer growing season than what we have experienced over the last few years. We are not going to box up the vintage or give it a number out of 10, but we are quietly excited…..

    Accept that seasons must have their influence on wine and cherish the nuances of those seasons.

    There are some stunning wines being made by exciting winemakers that do show wonderful seasonal differences. Look for the winemakers that you trust and enjoy from year to year. It is a little like going on the journey with them.

    For ourselves, we enjoy the wines not only from the De Bortoli vineyards, but from other producers like Gembrook Hill, Hoddles Creek and Jamsheed – just to name a few.

    Cheers, Leanne

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

    More about our quest for A+ wines that express the vineyards they are from  – watch video

    Handpicking De Bortoli Yarra Valley

    Handpicking – De Bortoli Yarra Valley


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    #Cabernet tweets the world Thu, 02 Sep 2010 03:53:00 +0000

    Why is Cabernet so special on September 2?

    This is the day that the world is ‘tweeting’ about this rather noble variety. No matter where you are, as long as you have a glass of Cabernet in hand and a Twitter account (don’t forget the hashtag #cabernet), you can join thousands of like-minded people to taste and tweet on all things Cabernet!

    But if you are not into Twitter, why not still open a bottle and enjoy what makes Cabernet an intriguing and well-loved wine.

    When Steve and I first moved to the Yarra Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon was the most planted variety here and with good reason. It made beautiful wine. Wines from some of the more established wineries like Mount Mary, Yarra Yering and Yeringberg told a very compelling story about why Cabernet was the backbone of the region for a very long time. For De Bortoli, Cabernet was king at one stage but we gradually became seduced by Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and more recently, cool-climate Shiraz. For a while, Cabernet was cast into the bottom of the broom cupboard but we’re happy to announce that Cabernet is back, albeit in slightly different clothing…

    Dame Nellie Melba, Opera Diva extraordinaire

    Our range of Cabernet comes under the successful Melba label, named after Australian opera diva Dame Nellie Melba, who for many years resided in the Yarra Valley. Her incredible talent was world renowned and we’d also like to think she enjoyed the occasional glass of ‘claret’. These wines are our interpretation of Cabernet blends made in the Claret style: medium bodied and eminently drinkable.

    Wine that sings in the glass

    • Melba ‘Reserve is a traditional Yarra Valley Cabernet blend from our oldest vineyards dating back to 1971… “and has the silken polish that winemaker Steve Webber prizes so highly…” (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2011)

    • Melba ‘Lucia’ is named for the opera Lucia Di Lammermoor performed by Dame Nellie Melba. A blend of Cabernet with a splash of Sangiovese, this wine is savoury with a lick of rusticity.

    • Melba ‘Mimi’ is named after one of Melba’s performances from the opera La Boheme and made from Cabernet, Shiraz and Nebbiolo. As James Halliday writes in his 2011 Australian Wine Companion, Melba Mimi “hits all the right notes, with an understated elegance to the ensemble of black fruits, with bass notes of cedar, and fine tannins as the finale”.

    Find out what makes a great Cabernet – click here to watch a video

    So whether you are into singing or tweeting or just enjoying good wine, open up a bottle of Cabernet today.

    Cheers, Leanne

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


    Melba Cabernet Range

    Melba Cabernet Range

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    Natural wine, naturally? Tue, 31 Aug 2010 02:22:30 +0000

    In the last few weeks there has been some debate on Twitter about ‘natural’ wine. What makes a natural wine ‘natural’ but more importantly, is it any good?

    Some years ago if you ventured into a bottle shop, all organic and biodynamic wines were lumped together in one small section. Some of those wines were okay but unfortunately many were undrinkable – good intentions hiding behind some serious wine faults.

    Jump forward 20 years and the attitudes and quality of these wines have largely changed. Many vignerons are venturing back to the traditions of old, but not for any other reason than it is their belief that healthy and naturally disease resistant vineyards and minimal handling does make better wine.

    When my husband, Stephen Webber and I first moved to the Yarra Valley, we thought we were quite innovative, but as we look back we were really ‘babes in the woods’. Our recent move towards biological farming has opened our eyes to the potential increases in character and quality. Our soils are alive with biological activity and they actually store water; our vines are much more disease resistant, their health visually obvious and the detail in the resultant wines profound. They have a ‘naturalness’.

    How we are using biological farming practices to make great, natural wine – click here to watch video

    Some suggestions for the wine lover :

    • Appreciate subtlety and finesse in wine. Not wine dominated by fruit or oak or alcohol.
    • Place your trust in the good vignerons and winemakers. They seldom let you down.
    • Look for and treasure the seasonal differences in wine. Appreciate the changes from year to year.
    • Place your trust in good wine merchants and sommeliers. Many of these people can suggest wines that are interesting, expressive of place and delicious.
    • And for some light bedtime reading – Kermit Lynch’s wonderful book ‘Adventures of the Wine Route’.

    Cheers, Leanne

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


    Healthy vines, delicious wines

    Healthy vines, delicious wines

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    It’s harder to do nothing… Fri, 27 Aug 2010 04:55:36 +0000

    Hand-in-hand with nature…

    The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first wine growing district and has a rich history of premium wine production dating back more than 150 years. However, what excites us more today is the energy of a lot of young (and not-so-young) winemakers in the region who are really pushing the boundaries. To be part of and surrounded by this enthusiasm can only augur well for the Yarra Valley in future years.

    Our own “Eureka” moment began eight years ago when we changed our winemaking philosophy and this has been reflected in the wines we make today. De Bortoli have made a complete turnaround in viticultural and winemaking practices stemming from our desire to make wines that reflect a sense of place.

    This fundamental philosophical change begins first and foremost in the vineyard with a move toward a more symbiotic form of farming our land. Hand-in-hand with nature. We are working at increasing a healthy biology in our soils, with the belief that better soil and vine health will produce higher fruit quality. And do you know what, it does!

    How we are using biological farming practices – click here to watch video

    Hands-off until its hands-on…

    This is followed by a ‘hands-off’ approach in the winery (as much as possible) to let the wine make itself. The common phrase around here is that ‘it is harder to do nothing’. No winemaking wizardry, or techno gizmos, just gentle handling of what nature has provided us.

    Since we bought the Yarra Valley vineyard in 1987, the vineyard has been expanded to over 200 hectares of which more than half is made into completely hand crafted wine. By this we mean hand-picking, hand-sorting, hand-plunging and hard work.

    The vineyard has a good mix of varieties including; Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz as well as lesser known varieties such as Viognier, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. The Yarra Valley is well-known for its beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and of course historically, Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is some of the more esoteric styles of wine and different varieties that are also capturing people’s imagination.

    Cheers, Leanne

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at


    Handpicking in the Yarra Valley



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    Yarra Valley – The best place on earth… Wed, 25 Aug 2010 02:18:17 +0000

    It is early morning here in the Yarra Valley. It is cold outside (about five degrees!) and there is a slight mist in the air giving the landscape a picture perfect, fairytale beauty. This is now my home where I have lived for the last 20 years and where my husband Steve Webber and I look after the Yarra Valley winery for our family.

    The Yarra Valley is located about 40 km north east of Melbourne, which is Australia’s most Southern mainland city. It is Victoria’s oldest wine region, with over 4000 hectares under vine and one of the most visited wine regions in Australia. There aren’t many vineyard regions where just one hour from the middle of a city you find yourself in a stunningly beautiful landscape.

    There were just 16 wineries in the Yarra Valley when my family purchased this vineyard in 1987. Steve and I were living in Coonawarra when my brother Darren asked us if we would like to manage the Yarra Valley project with the goal to establish a premium wine brand for the company in a prestigious cool-climate region.

    By 1990, our Winery & restaurant/cellar door complex had been built to launch the new De Bortoli Yarra Valley label. Today the De Bortoli Winery & Locale Restaurant is one of the premier wine and food attractions in the Yarra Valley with recent accolades including the 2008 and 2009 Best Tourism Winery in the Qantas Australian tourism Awards. More importantly to us though, it is a place that people can come to discover the joy of wine in a very convivial environment. Good food, good company and great wines. Isn’t that what life is about?

    We can show you why the Yarra Valley is the best place why on earth – watch video

    If you have been to the Yarra Valley I would be happy to hear of some of your experiences. If not, some of my recommendations are:

    • Healesville Hotel: a great place for a quick bar meal or for finer dining in the restaurant.

    • Giant Steps Innocent Bystander: big bustling place to enjoy pizza with a glass of wine but my highlight would have to be their very tasty sourdough bread. In the days our restaurant is closed, I’ll often zip over to Healesville to buy a loaf or two of their bread. Yum yum.

    • De Bortoli Cheese Shop: Yeah, I know it’s ours but this collaboration with Richard Thomas has resulted in beautifully matured cheese which we can offer to visitors. Also Richard and our staff can advise on some pretty interesting cheese and wine matchings too.

    • TarraWarra Museum of Art: The TWMA was built by the Bensen Family some years ago and is a showcase of the Bensen’s contemporary Australian art collection as well as visiting art exhibitions. The architecture of this wonderful building is worth the visit on its own. 

    • Natskin Dayspa: Well, a girl has to pamper herself every now and again. Situated at Balgownie, Mecure Hotel is the place to go for a manicure or massage or both.   

    • Healesville Sanctuary:  Got kids? Well look no further than this place to while away a few hours. All manner of Australia flora and fauna can be found here and is well worth the visit, even without kids.

    • Balloon Flight: Want to do something a little different? Take a float over the valley and vineyards with Global Ballooning. Memorable.

    So why not come and see us sometime, and look at the world through a Rosé-coloured glass!

    Cheers, Leanne

    Follow Leanne on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at

    Pinot Noir Rose

     Pinot Noir Rose on the back deck

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    De Bortoli who? Yarra Valley where? Mon, 23 Aug 2010 03:44:34 +0000

    Hello to you all. I am Leanne De Bortoli and De Bortoli Wines was established by my grandfather in 1928 in Bilbul, Australia. I am thrilled to be invited as a guest blogger for Asian Correspondent and to share the stories about my family, our company, our philosophy and perhaps some other juicy stories.

    Our family story is not unlike that of many other migrant stories in Australia. In the early part of the 20th century, many new Australians arrived from Europe looking for a better life, including my grandfather Vittorio De Bortoli. Vittorio emigrated from Castelcucco in Northern Italy, a little village near the historic town of Asolo. On arrival in 1924, news of work, land and food in the newly irrigated Riverina area of New South Wales caught his attention and he made his way to Bilbul (named after William T Bull), my hometown.

    To cut a long family tale short, in 1928 Vittorio bought his first farm and married his childhood sweetheart Giuseppina. They had three children; Flo, Deen (my father) and Eola. Seventy five years later my three brothers and I are now running the family business. My eldest brother Darren is Managing Director, Kevin is Company Viticulturist and Victor is Export Director. And then there is my mother Emeri, the real ‘Boss’.

    I look after the Yarra Valley arm of our business, along with my husband Stephen Webber. Between the two of us we look after the daily winery/vineyard operations as well as the tourism/restaurant/cellar door activities. On top of that, we have raised two daughters, Kate and Sally.

    Although I was born in Australia, Italian family values are still core to our business philosophy at De Bortoli Wines. I am sure my grandfather would be quietly proud at the thought of so many people drinking wine as it should be enjoyed, with good food, with family and with friends.

    Follow Leanne on Twitter @DeBortoliWines and visit us at

    A Family Business – watch video


    L-R: Darren, Kevin, Emeri, Leanne and Victor De Bortoli

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