Originally a commercial winemaker, this producer has become an innovator at the top end: firstly, through the creation of Noble One Botrytis Semillon, a richly exotic, sweet, dessert wine that has set the pace for well over 15 years; and, secondly, through investment in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
Vittorio de Bortoli arrived in Griffith in 1924, the centre of the Riverina region and a part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Returning soldiers from WW1 and Italian immigrants are largely responsible for the growth of this important wine-growing region. De Bortoli established a mixed farming business and hobby winery in 1927 purchasing a 55-acre fruit farm. Itinerant Italian labourers, who arrived in the Riverina during the fruit-picking season, encouraged Vittorio to start making wine commercially. The venture has thrived through the second and third generation with Deen de Bortoli (pictured), his son Darren, son-in-law Steve Webber and other family members improving quality, expanding markets and production.
In 2000 this winery crushed approximately 47,000 tonnes. Although the focus has been on commercial wine, it has achieved an astonishing reputation for dessert wine. De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon first released with the 1982 vintage stormed the wine world by showing that Australia is capable of making a sweet wine of classic proportions. Certainly this wine has captured more trophies and medals at wine shows than any other single wine.
De Bortoli remains a family venture. The De Bortoli Noble One is the only dessert wine in Langton’s Classification. These are beautifully made wines with intense honeyed apricot aromas and a luscious sweet, highly viscous, but beautifully balanced and uncloying palate.
Andrew Caillard MW