The Cowra Wine Show trophy recently for best Single Vineyard Wine went up. Sold to De Bortoli Hunter Valley for their 2004 Murphys Semillon, clearly a major achievement.

Normally the name in the winners’ circle for Hunter semillon is Tyrrells or McWilliams or Brokenwood or Meerea Park, but now De Bortoli for this first time.

Ten days earlier De Bortoli winemaker Scott Harrington had made quite an incisive statement during a visit to Brisbane to show his new DBHV (De Bortoli Hunter Valley) retro label around.

“We were releasing semillon every year as it was made. Now we need to release some older examples such as 2004, 2005 and in December our 2006 (11.5% alcohol) will be out ,” (USD 31.50) said Scott.

This wine is grown on the sandy soils of Lovedale which have a propensity to produce long aged semillon.

From 2003 De Bortoli had purchased this vineyard of eight hectares and expanded it to 20 hectares. The plantings included new varieties such as vermentino, viognier (white) and negro amaro (red).

The DBHV Field Blend 09 (USD 14) is a classic white under another name. It’s simply a classy, crisp, dry, low alcohol competitor to the Kiwi stuff, but it has more attitude and innovation.

Scott says his 2010 blend is 50% semillon, 25% vermentino, 13% verdelho and 12% viognier, all contained below 11 % alcohol.

The 2009 I tasted is semillon, verdelho and vermentino so clearly there is some tidy experimentation going on to get both the impact and vineyard personality working.

The DBHV Vermentino 2008 (USD 14) is quite a smart wine; low alcohol, melony and delectable. In recent vintages it is included in the Field Blend.

The DBHV Nouveau Shiraz 09 (USD 14) is clearly outstanding. It should not have had the word “Nouveau” attached as Scott admitted because we don’t need such a French word attached to what is clearly an Aussie wine made very well.

De Bortoli has started to think outside the traditional square since arriving in the Hunter, and this shows ever so clearly with this wine. Scott says it was originally quite sappy when first made, using early-harvested fruit, lots of whole bunches, but now that the wine is ready for release it has purity, great softness and immediate drinkability.

The DBHV Wills Hill 2008 (USD 36) is a greater extension of the Nouveau wine but barrel aged in a more serious manner. Scott also explains what De Bortoli wish to achieve.

“We want medium bodied wine without the graphite and hard backbone, no hardness or drying out early in the life of the wine. We wish for perfume of the fruit not savouriness, we are happy picking early and then have the means to make wine with detail,” he said.

The amazing aspect is this wine was made during the wet 2008 Hunter harvest; many companies ditched their reds due to dilution from the heavy rain during harvest. De Bortoli rescued 30 percent including this fabulous shiraz.

And they had no intention of ditching the crop. Their attitude is, “This is a natural expression of the vineyard and that’s what it represents.”

So let’s look out for more detailed HV shiraz.

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