Little Gems: King Valley

By Halliday Promotion

16 Jan, 2024

We get to know two producers in north-east Victoria's King Valley.

The King Valley, AKA Little Italy, is located in north-east Victoria. The region is famous for its Mediterranean influence, and its hero varieties are Prosecco, sangiovese, and pinot gris/grigio, along with a host of lesser-known varieties like saparavi, aligoté, barbera, dolcetto, pinot bianco, and albariño. 

Below we get to know two King Valley wineries – La Cantina and Dal Zotto Wines – we find out what they love about the region (including their favourite local spots), what you can expect from a trip to their cellar doors, and the key wines to try when you get there. 

La Cantina

La Cantina cellar door outside

Winemaker Peter Corsini says: We are a small, family owned and run winery located in the heart of the King Valley. We planted our 25ha vineyard in the 1980s and have been pioneers in producing preservative-free wines since the winery opened in 1997. Our wines are made based on traditions originating in Tuscany (where my dad, Gino, grew up making wine with his family). We produce wines with no added sulfites and use gentle winemaking techniques to preserve the purity of the fruit. Given our heritage, we have a strong connection with Italian varietal wines such as pinot grigio, sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera. We also produce emerging varieties like saperavi, and classics such as chardonnay and shiraz. 

H. What do you love about making wine in the King Valley? 
PC. I think it has to be our climate, and the wide variety of quality wines we're able to produce. The King Valley has a lovely continental climate – warm summer days are perfect for ripening Mediterranean red varieties, while cool breezes off the Victorian Alps are perfect for retaining acidity and freshness in white varieties. This versatility in our region is quite unique and means there's great variety in what we do as winemakers. 

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door? 
PC. Our cellar door is a beautiful stone building, built by hand, using local Glenrowan granite. We are open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. We offer free tastings of our wines and have a 'build your own platter' option, which allows you to select charcuterie products and build your own antipasto platter to accompany your wine tasting (perfectly enjoyed on the lawns and gardens surrounding our cellar door!).

Favourite local spot: Powers Lookout. It's situated at the top end of the valley at about 750 metres above sea level and is a must visit when you’re in King Valley.  

Wine to try 

2022 La Cantina Barbera

2022 La Cantina Barbera 

Deep ruby in colour, the 2022 Barbera is a lovely medium-bodied red. Bright, crunchy red fruits and cherries dominate the fore palate while darker fruits, with subtle oak spice, drive the back palate length. This is supported by soft tannins and fresh acidity, which is one of the beautiful hallmarks of the variety. 

Best enjoyed: Barbera loves tomato-based dishes – pasta al pomodoro made with fresh summer tomatoes is perfect. The 2022 is best served at room temperature, but most importantly, the wine is best enjoyed in the company of good friends and family – as is the mantra with all of our wines. 

RRP $25 | Drink to 2028 | Shop this wine | 

Dal Zotto Wines 

The Dal Zotto family

Co-owners Christian and Michael Dal Zotto say: Otto and Elena Dal Zotto established Dal Zotto Estate in 1987. Back then it was a small vineyard planted to chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon producing a few tonnes of grapes. In 1999, they made Australian wine industry history, when they planted Australia’s first prosecco vineyard and released the country’s first prosecco in 2004. These days the family vineyard holdings run close to 161ha, there is a full winery on site, not to mention the cellar door, trattoria, accommodation, kitchen gardens, sweeping lawns running down to the King River, and a bocce pitch where regular conquests take place (always with glass in hand). We (Otto and Elena's sons) now own Dal Zotto, and we’ve continued to be inspired by the Dal Zotto vision while adding our own touch. 

H. What do you love about making wine in the King Valley? 
CDZ & MDZ. We love the fact we're able to grow a wide range of varieties in the King Valley. The uniqueness of our region allows us to explore and discover new varieties and creates excitement in both the vineyard and the winery. Over the years we have been able to play with different wines and styles due to the different microclimates that play a part in making King Valley such a great region to grow and produce wine in.  

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door? 
CDZ & MDZ. Guests will experience genuine Italian family hospitality at the Dal Zotto Wines Cellar Door and Trattoria four days a week. Situated in the heart of the King Valley, the Dal Zotto family live the true la dolce vita lifestyle and we encourage guests to join us in celebrating the beauty in every day with a glass of Prosecco in hand. No matter what time you enter through the gates, it’s guaranteed to be Prosecco time – just ask our patriarch Otto Dal Zotto, who was responsible for pioneering Australia’s first Dal Zotto’s Prosecco grapes on the property in 1999.

Our cellar door is a stunning Victorian country setting among beautiful gum trees. The cellar door and trattoria overlook the vineyard and family matriarch Nonna Elena’s garden, where the trattoria’s hero ingredients are lovingly grown and hand-picked for simple antipasto combinations, pizza and handmade pasta. At the forefront of Italian wine styles in Australia, you’ll find a stunning range of prosecco and table wines such as arneis, pinot grigio, garganega, rosato, sangiovese and barbera. All wines are available to purchase by the glass or bottle in the trattoria which is open Thursday to Sunday for lunch.  

Favourite local spot: Paradise Falls is such a special place to visit, another is Lake William Hovel, which is a great place to go for a barbecue and a swim.

Wine to try 

2023 Dal Zotto Wines Pinot Bianco

2023 Dal Zotto Wines Pinot Bianco 

Pinot bianco is in the pinot grigio and pinot noir family. It and produces a delicious and textural wine, with richness and lovely lingering fruit. Full of almond and a hint of spice on the nose, the palate shows apple, stone fruit and mineral undertones. Five months in large format old oak has created a complex and beguiling style that is ready to delight now or anytime over the next four to five years.

Best enjoyed: The 2023 will match perfectly with oysters, calamari, light meats, creamy pasta dishes, poultry, the prosciutto Bianca pizza (served at DZ Trattoria) and is best enjoyed with friends and family. 

RRP $30 | Drink to 2029 | Shop this wine |