De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon (2008)
Review: De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon (2008) 90/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published August 15, 2013
Vittorio De Bortoli left Italy in 1924 emigrating to Australia. In 1928 he (and of course his future wife Giuseppina) established De Bortoli Wines with the first crush of Black Shiraz Grapes made into wine for family and friends. Their son, Deen De Bortoli, (1936 – 2003) expanded the business created by his parents, and Deen’s children (Darren and Leanne) continued to build De Bortoli’s reputation developing the flagship wine Noble One (and the Yarra Valley wines).
Noble One Botrylis Semillon which is the subject of this review was created in 1982 by Darren De Bortoli. Currently the wine has 26 vintages, and has become the standard-bearer for the De Bortoli family. The Noble One is produced from a late hand-picked harvest of the Semillon grape. The agent at work is a specific fungus called “Botrytis cinerea“ which affects the grapes by absorbing their moisture making them dry. As the fruit loses moisture, its sugar content increases dramatically. Other factors may be at work as well with the final result being that the “botrytised” or rotten grapes are able to produce an intensely sweet and flavourful wine. Fortunately for De Bortoli, autumn in the Riverina region (where the Semillon grapes are grown) often sees long, dry, warm days interspersed with a sprinkling of showers and heavy morning dews, an ideal situation for producing the Noble Fungus.
I met Darren Blood the Export Manager (Americas and New Zealand) for De Bortoli Wines at a portfolio tasting for Lifford Wines, who are the local distributors of the Australian Noble One Botrytis Semillon dessert wine. Darren arranged for me to receive a 375 ml sample of the Noble One for review upon my website.
In the Bottle 3.5/5
I snapped a picture of my 375 ml sample bottle of De Bortoli Noble One (see left). The presentation is rather understated for a wine as decorated as the Noble One (more than 100 trophies and 375 Gold Medals both nationally and internationally).
In fact, it is fair to say that the beige label with its gold lettering doesn’t appeal to me. It is a rather bland colour scheme and unfortunately would not entice me to pick it out in a retail setting. If I did pick it up I could read about all the awards and medals on the back label; but I suspect that before that happened some other bottle with a snazzier label would already have caught my eye.
(The metallic screw cap on the top practically shouts bottom shelf.)
I know it is what is inside the bottle that really counts, but how can what is inside ever be realized by the consumer if he (or she) never gets there.
In the Glass 22.5/25
When I poured the Noble wine into my glass it displayed itself with a nice golden honey colour. The breezes above the glass were enticing. There is a suave richness in the air which gives me impressions of sweet nectar and honey. I smell full bunches of green grapes, fresh apples and ripe pears. Some vanilla accents these initial impressions and a certain light spiciness reminds me of sandalwood and white oak. I also sense hints of maple within the breezes and even a bit of graham wafer. The nose fortunately is much nicer than the bottle which contained it.
In The Mouth 46/50
The wine has just enough acidity and tartness to open the palate to a bevy of fruit filled impressions. The sweetness makes the wine succulent as well. Honey and maple have combined with flavours of both fresh fruit (apples and pears) and canned fruit (peaches and apricots). The result is more of the rich, suave character which was noted on the nose. There is more complexity to be found as flavours of Nanking cherry seem to seep into my consciousness with a light oak spiciness and subtle vanillans.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The Noble One is delightful as it slides down the throat coating the palate and the back of the mouth with its honeyed sweetness. If I close my eyes when I swallow, I can imagine green grapes and fresh pear slices covered in a light maple syrup and honey. Since I am a Canadian, anything that reminds me so much of maple and fresh honey has to receive a great score.
My Final Impressions 4.5/5
I loved the suave rich flavour of the De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon. It is a wine which is extremely approachable, and quite delightful when served after dinner with a fruit filled raspberry or strawberry shortcake.
Sampled with some pungent Gouda and sharp cheddar cheese, and freshly sliced peaches and apricots, the Noble One was equally delightful. The wine though, deserves a better bottle.
If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Dessert Wine Reviews!
Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)
My system is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:
0-25 A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84 Enjoyment begins here.
85-89 Very good to excellent!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.
De Bortoli Wines is today managed by the third generation of De Bortoli. According to the company website every family member is involved in winemaking, which is overseen by Managing Director Darren De Bortoli and Steve Webber (Leanne De Bartoli’s husband). Leanne and Steve manage the Yarra Valley winery and vineyard. Kevin De Bortoli is the Company Viticulturist and Victor De Bortoli is Export Director.