A Chat With Michael Dal Zotto From Dal Zotto Wines
Michael Dal Zotto has had a long-standing career in the wine industry that began with his family roots. Originally from Italy, they moved to Australia and bought land in Victoria’s King Valley region. What began as a tobacco farm, the Dal Zotto’s shifted their focus into wine making and planted vineyards – something they were familiar with back in Europe. Growing up amongst the grapes and learning from his wine expert father, Michael joined the family business and has since paved his own way in the industry by producing some of the country’s most iconic varieties.
With a rich wine making heritage and career, we sat down with Michael to discuss his life amongst the grapes, his insights on the region and what guests can look forward to tasting when they experience a bottle of Dal Zotto from Crown Cellar & Co.
What makes the King Valley region such a great place to produce wines and how would it differ to say, the Yarra Valley?
I have always felt the King Valley and its unique micro-climates make the ideal place to grow a number of different varieties. Depending where you are in the Valley you will always be able to find a variety to suit that area. One of its greatest attributes is the difference between day and night time temperatures which help to ensure flavour development while maintaining acidity and aromatics.
What kind of wine do you produce and which is your personal favourite?
We produce a number of different wines - Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Pinot Bianco, Garganega, Rosato, Sangiove, Barbera, Nebbiolo and some more traditional varieties of Cabernet, Shiraz, Riesling.
My personal favourite if the Prosecco Col Fondo in our range of sparkling, the Pinot Bianco in the whites and Barbera in the red.
Can you explain in more detail why the Barbera and Pinot Bianco are such special varietals (and exclusive to Crown!)
Pinot Bianco is a variety we only started making recently and have found its texture and flavour profile to be extremely appealing. It has had some oak treatment to give it an extra layer of complexity which has really enhanced this wine. For me, The Barbera is one of the most understated wines on the market - I love how the structure of this wine is built around its acidity. It has great spice notes and then plum, orange rind and a savoury palate. It’s an ideal wine to have with northern Italian dishes!
Why should Victorian wines feature in every wine lover’s cellar?
That’s easy - because you can create your own trip around the wine world with Victorian wines, from world class sparkling wines, phenomenal table wines, and unbelievable fortifieds to top it off.
It’s been a difficult past two years for wineries as a result of the bushfires and COVID. How did this impact production and business?
We lost all our production in 2020 due to bushfires, so to then to have this followed up with COVID hurt a business like ours that relies heavily on restaurant trade when selling domestically. We are fighting through this and it has been great to welcome back visitors to our cellar door recently.
How is vintage looking this year? How will this affect the taste profile of the wine?
Vintage looks great this year to put it simply! We have had favourable ripening conditions and rain at the right time. Wines are already jumping out of the tank with flavour, so it should go down as one of the best vintages in recent times.
Where would you like to see Dal Zotto progress and develop in the next few years?
We are about to undertake an accommodation development project at the cellar door which is exciting. But ultimately it is always great for us to be able to continue to work with our partners like Crown to help get our wines to new people and help take them on the Italian varietal journey.
What’s your favourite wine memory? (from both your career or personal life)
It was about 21 years ago and I was fortunate enough to be invited to a King Valley Riesling wine tasting by one of King Valley’s elder statesmen. I was able to taste Rieslings as far back as 1970. It opened my eyes to aging wines, particularly Rieslings. It was one of my “aha” moments!
In 2008 I was awarded the George Alexander Fellowship by the International Specialised Skills Institute. I spent a month between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano studying Prosecco with the director of the Experimental Institute of Viticulture and visiting a different winery and vineyard each day to grow my knowledge of Prosecco, it was an unbelievable trip.
The most important thing you’ve learnt about wine from your career journey thus far?
To always keep an open mind and be adaptable to any situation no matter what is thrown at you.
What is a food and wine pairing rule you love to break?
Does wine really need food?
Last wine you poured for friends from your wine rack?
I last poured our Col Fondo Prosecco and also the All Saints Family Cellar Marsanne- which both went down wonderfully of course!
If you’re on the hunt for something special for your wine fridge or perhaps someone interstate, wine delivery is available Australia-wide through our online store with free delivery for orders over $200. Plus, Crown Rewards members will receive 5 points for every dollar spent - making gift giving even sweeter.
Location: Level B1 Crown Towers, Open Daily from 12 - 8pm