In late 1994 at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show I hooked up with ‘Slingers’, David Slingsby-Smith, to talk about doing Vintage at the still relatively new DeBortoli’s Yarra Valley Winery. A couple of slurps and a quick chat later it was all sorted.
DeBort’s was a great place to cut my teeth, jesus I was green to the realities of Vintage and the basics of making a cellar sing. We had a great crew with Slingers, Steve Webber and David Bicknell. The radio blared long into the night as operations continued 24/7, the Top 10 of the vintage included the all time classics “When I was a Sperm” & “I Like Big Butt’s”.
I scored the nickname ‘Grass Hopper’, and, yes, it is a reference to Kung Fu with David Carradine, I was the Apprentice to a couple of Masters and one well on the way to becoming one. Gotta say these guys all taught me a hell of a lot and I started to get my head around the region and it’s fruit.
It’s interesting to look back at the styles made at DeBort’s back in 1995, they were ripper, more alcoholic and had a fair bit of new, sometimes, US Oak. Been great watching what I consider to be one of the most innovative, large, wine businesses evolve and continue to produce wines of increasing sophistication that reflect the time and place they were made. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for their, Italian and other less mainstream varieties!