Come Fly With Me

(Cue Star Trek music.)

“Captain Tony’s log – Stardate 14.02.2011

Have landed on a new planet – the radar appears to show no sign of intelligent life here. Must be Australia.”

Only kidding – don’t start writing in 7Days please!

I held off on the taxi driver about the Ashes. For about 5 minutes. Then I just couldn’t help myself…

My first port of call in Oz is to the Yarra Valley to see De Bortoli, another great family-owned company with a great history here. Not only did I see the Yarra operation but they also flew me, rather dauntingly in a very wee plane, up to the original family homestead and main winery at Griffith, in the Riverina.

Not an Emirates A380......

The MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) is an area of vast vineyards supplied by a network of irrigation channels which allows them to grow the fruit in what is a pretty hot area. Harvest here has started already with the first Semillon grapes coming into the winery today.

De Bortoli Griffith winery in bottom right-hand corner

I tasted through the DB range which many of you will know, the Deen Vat range and was treated to some Noble One also. Then a fascinating barrel tasting of their fortified wines. The Oz wine industry used to be all about sweet, sticky styles of wine, it’s only fairly recently that the style has changed to dry wines, however there are several producers still making ports, muscats and other stickies. Tasting some 30 year old + muscats was really interesting.

Amongst the vines on the De Bortoli estate

We flew back down to the Yarra where the weather had cleared up nicely. They’ve had a quite a lot of rain this season, and Northern Victoria has seen some flooding but winemaker Steve Webber reckons that if they can have 2 weeks of good weather from now on this could be a really good year. Steve provided me with my WOTD and possibly the best Pinot so far on the trip – Riorret The Abbey Pinot Noir 2008 – from the Yarra, tons of red fruit and spice aromas and great texture.

Steve married Leanne De Bortoli and together they now run the Yarra winery and cellar-door, complete with a great restaurant. Had a great evening BBQ on their deck enjoying a range of different wines and a huge steak – a great cooking tip Steve showed me – once your steak is seared both sides, douse it in dry sherry and then cook to your liking – works a treat!!


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