The Australian wine industry might be blessed with some mighty fine wines, but it has got a whole load of characters to first make them and then sell them. Some of those winemakers have made the trip to the UK this week to show their wines at Wine Australia’s series of Australia Day tastings. One of whom is Christian Dal Zotto who will be showing how well Italian grape varieties are now performing with his range of wines, including Australia-style Prosecco.
Christian Dal Zotto, along with his brother, Michael and father Otto, are very much part of the Italian winemaking scene in Australia where producers are looking to use indigenous Italian grape varieties Down Under. He will be showing those wines on the Red Squirrel stand at today’s Australia Day tasting in London.
How was 2017 for you?
2017 was a huge year for Dal Zotto! Driven particularly by Prosecco sales! We cannot seem to keep up with the demand.
The biggest thing to have happened this year was the purchasing of the family business by Michael (my older brother) and I off our parents. This has been a long time in the making. To have this signed off on was a real achievement for us both.
The year served up many challenges, but I can honestly say nothing really stood out. I like to think of myself as a glass half full. And the challenges we faced are part and parcel of being in business. We are fortunate enough to have an amazing team around us that allow us to meet all challenges head on. If it gets to much…just drink more Prosecco!
What are your hopes for the 2018 vintage?
As we get to the business end of the season in the vineyard we are hoping the weather remains our friend. So far we have been very lucky with great weather.
The wines we are expecting big things from this vintage are: Garganega; Arneis; Sangiovese; and Barbera.
The work that Otto (my dad) and his team are doing, in-conjunction with Michael, has laid the ground work for some amazing fruit. Which hopefully should result in some very delicious wines from the 2018 vintage.
Where are the best markets for your wine and why?
Singapore – we have been in this market for a while now. The Prosecco suits the climate well. Also, the food scene in Singapore is pretty good and the Italian varieties match a wide range of food.
UK – because we have the best distributor in the UK in Red Squirrel Wine! And we are providing the market with something not only different but delicious. I have found the UK trade love their wines, are well educated on what they want. And they are more than willing to try new things like and Arneis form Australia. Which really works for us..
Dubai – yes that’s right, Dubai. It is slowly becoming our biggest market! They have embraced the DZ brand with open arms and since the debut of our wines have gone crazy with them. Especially Prosecco and Sangiovese. It’s also such a great market to visit. Always new things happening with the trade. I love going there.
What are your hopes/ challenges working in the UK market?
We are very new in to the UK market. But we have high hopes and really feel good about the team at Red Squirrel. They are young, motivated and are making all the right moves. We couldn’t be happier with who is representing our brand in the UK.
Challenges – being a new brand in the market we need to be patient and be confident in the process that Red Squirrel has in place to help make the brand successful. Also, trying to get people to be comfortable with Italian varieties form Australia. But we are getting there.
Which of your wines are best suited to the UK?
Gee, that’s a tough one. That’s like asking a parent – “who is your favourite child?” I honestly couldn’t answer that. I’d like to think the wines that we are currently selling in to the UK all offer something unique to the right trade…
Why should buyers/sommeliers come and see you at the Australia Day tastings?
Because no-one else in the room will have an Australia Col Fondo! That… and I am a good guy…
OK let’s talk cricket…
Other than this year, what are your favourite Ashes memories?
“The Gatting Ball” – Ball of the century. By far my favourite memory Ashes memory!
It was 1993, day two of the first test match and Shane Warne’s delivery to Mike Gatting at Old Trafford. Even though Warne has admitted to it being a fluke! It was still one of the most memorable deliveries of all time. The look on Gatting’s (and everyone else) face is priceless.
Best Australian cricketers: batsman and bowler?
Batsman: Currently, Steve Smith. This guy is in such amazing form. Closing the year off as the highest runs scorer. They are already saying he is one of the greatest Australian batsman since Bradman.
Steve Waugh would be one of my all time favourites. As a captain, I loved the strategic way he approached matches and when he had to stand up he did. He was a captain’s captain. But it is of no surprise the greatest batsman to represent Australia is Sir Donald Bradman!
Bowlers: Dennis Lillie – not really my era, but you can’t argue with the numbers here!
Shane Warne – Has taken nearly as many wickets as text messages sent. If it wasn’t for his texting antics I would like him more. But the guy can bowl. No arguments there.
Best English cricketers: batsman and bowler?
Batsman – Kevin Pieterson. Again, like Warne KP’s behaviour is not his best attribute. But he knows how to score runs. Also Alistair Cook. Pure class!
Bowlers: I love James Anderson. Watching him bowl is a treat.
Sir Ian Botham was a great all rounder and was tough!
Favourite ground – and why?
MCG – because it is the greatest ground in the world. Simple really. The atmosphere is electric every time I am there.
Perhaps when Nik Darlington takes me to Old Trafford, I may change my answer.
Earliest Ashes memory?
Best wine to relax and watch the cricket with. Who are you drinking it with – one cricket personality and person from the wine trade?
This may sound strange but I would love to have a drink with Curtly Ambrose and Dean Jones. I would then ask Curtly about the incident with Dean Jones during the first final of the World Series Cup on January 16, 1993. When Jones asks Curtly to remove his white wrist bands. This resulted in Ambrose bowling some of the fastest and most aggressive balls in one day cricket. And decimating the Aussie batting line up – taking 5/32.
Wine of Choice would be 1978 Giacamo Conterno Barolo Riserva – one of the greatest vintages for Conterno and also my birth year. Not sure I want to share this wine…sorry!!
- The main image of Christian is taken by Izzy Wedgewood.
- Christian will be on Red Squirrel Wine stand at the Australia Day tastings hosted by Wine Australia today in London and during the week in Edinburgh and Dublin. Here are the various dates and registration details. To register to attend the Australia Day tastings then click on the following links:
London January 23, 10am – 5pm at B1, Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4DA.
Edinburgh on January 25, 1pm – 6pm at The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, EH2 2EQ
Dublin on January 29 between 1pm to 6pm at he Round Room, The Mansion House, 2 Dawson Street, Dublin.