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Dal Zotto Dark Horse Winery of the Year

The Dark Horse Winery of the Year is Dal Zotto. The King Valley winery took the top new five-star winery title at the Halliday Awards 2020 for the family’s pioneering work with Australian Prosecco and Italian varieties like Fiano and Nebbiolo. Langton’s caught up with Michael Dal Zotto to talk gongs, fizz and bocce.

James Halliday’s Dark Horse Winery of the Year. How does it feel?

It gives us a feeling of pride to have all our hard work recognized. It also reinforces that King Valley is the right place to be growing Italian varieties, in particular, Prosecco. We at Dal Zotto have always felt that the King Valley in the home of Prosecco in Australia.

Dal Zotto

Australian’s are drinking more fizz and prosecco has played a big role in that. As pioneers of Australian prosecco, why do you think there is such enthusiasm for the wine?

Prosecco is an affordable luxury. It is the perfect way to start your night as an aperitivo or you can use it to make your favourite Prosecco cocktail. Another reason for prosecco’s popularity is its versatility. If the consumer wants something a little more complex, then they have the option to grab a bottle of Col Fondo. Or if it’s something a little more cheeky, then Pucino it is. Whichever way you go.,ou can be guaranteed a delicious drink!

‘Prosecco is an affordable luxury.’ 

Vintages on the label and secondary fermentation in bottle, is this typical of Prosecco? How are your wines different to what people would expect from say a Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG?

Vintage on labels is very dependent on a different winery’s view. We believe that the more complex the style of Prosecco we are aiming for, then the more we like to see the effect of the particular season’s growing conditions in the wine. Therefore, making a single vintage wine is very important. However, in the case of our non-vintage Pucino Prosecco, the style is less about the individual year and more about simple celebration. Secondary fermentation in bottle is something that goes back to the origins of Prosecco before it became commercialized and the Charmat process was developed. Bottle fermentation is something that was done because it was a method used by our Dad’s Dad in Valdobbiadene.

When making Prosecco we are aiming to make it a tribute to our family’s heritage. Most of the Italian Prosecco we see in Australia is in its least complex form, what we are trying to do at Dal Zotto is demonstrate the complexities that exist in Prosecco.

You have spent some time in Valdobbiadene in Italy learning about Prosecco from its place of origin. How has winemaking in Valdobbiadene influenced you?

Through spending time with winemakers in Valdobbiadene I was able to immerse myself in what they saw as the most important indicators in the vineyard prior to harvesting the fruit. Aside from tasting the grapes and ensuring the selection of the correct site to plant Prosecco on, this helped to form the starting point for each vintage.

‘ was a method used by our Dad’s Dad in Valdobbiadene.’

Dal Zotto is known for Prosecco and several of your wines have been scored very well by James Halliday. Beyond that, you had success with other Italian varieties. Can you talk to those wines? And what makes the King Valley such a happy home for Italian grapes?

Arneis is a wine we have been growing now for 22 years, and as a wine, it is textural on the palate as well as showing clear characters of apple, nashi pear and honeysuckle.  It is a wine that lends itself beautifully to food which has always formed an important part of Dal Zotto family life.

Rosato, which is a blend of Barbera, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, is a wine that displays lovely tropical aromatics and crisp acidity, making this wine a refreshing aperitivo or lovely match to any pork dish.

A number of different Italian varieties have found a home in the King Valley due to the uniqueness of the region.  What we have in the King Valley is a number of different micro-climates that allow the vignerons of the area to experiment with different varieties.  Like our Fiano that is typically found in warmer regions, this wine has found a home in the lower, warmer plains of the King Valley and from that, we have developed a textural wine with lovely savoury notes.

‘Christian leaves no prisoners...’

Who is the better bocce player? Michael or Christian?

Is this a loaded question? Christian of course. Christian leaves no prisoners when playing bocce. All done with a glass of Prosecco in his hand. To watch this is something special.

The trajectory of Dal Zotto appears to be onwards and upwards. What does the future look like for the winery?

The future is full of Prosecco. After winning the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Dark Horse Winery of The Year, we are full of excitement for what the future holds for Dal Zotto. And being the pioneers of Prosecco, you can be assured it will involve Prosecco in a big way.

‘The future is full of Prosecco.’

Over the years we have seen an evolution of Prosecco at Dal Zotto, so we would like to see this continue, introducing the consumer to new styles as we explore all of the possibilities. Prosecco is the one wine we know that is constantly evolving, and living its life to the fullest.

That’s it. It was nice to get to know Michael a little bit better. If you’d like to get to know his wines, now is the time to discover the Dal Zotto bottles in our portfolio by contacting your broker. 


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