De Bortoli have always been ahead of the industry trends, notably at the forefront of the rosé revitalisation a decade ago.
Now, with wines like this De Bortoli 17 Trees Pinot Grigio 2020, they’re backing the sustainability train, tapping into sentiment which suggests 9/10 consumers are more likely to buy ethical and sustainable products.
But is the wine any good?
From the outset, the sustainable angle is baked in. On the front label, there’s a pair of stickers – one ‘vegan-friendly’ (veganism and sustainability are tightly linked, there is even a magazine) and another that says ‘sustainably produced’.
In turn, the back label details how De Bortoli plans to plant a tree for every case sold. It goes on to note how the 17 Trees range is a ‘solid collaboration with our suppliers, distributors, customers and consumers to plant trees to rebuild the Australian forest’.
Although I desperately want to rewrite that sentence (forests aren’t buildings, you plant them, not build them. And aren’t consumers and customers the same thing?), the sentiment fits the angle perfectly. Plus, I really like the tree planting plans.
Further, Pinot Grigio is a smart hero variety too – mainstream appeal and inoffensive. Heck, even the press release came on plantable paper, and the delivery came with a carbon offset.
Congruous and clever.
In bottle, it’s an unsurprising wine – light, slightly sweet, broad, still crisp, inoffensive and shapeless.
There’s the rub.
Admittedly, I’m not the target market, but once you pull back the veneer of packaging and artifice this is a middling proposition.
It’s generic white wine, without a fixed identity, and the quality simply isn’t there for a $19.95 price tag.
You want a good ‘sustainably produced’ Pinot Grigio? Buy the Yalumba Y and save $5 a bottle. You want a quality, varietal Pinot Grigio for a similar price? Buy a Pizzini. You want an organic Pinot Grigio? Buy this from Angove and save $2.
It irks me that this has a premium (for Grigio) price, yet it doesn’t even have a regional designation (South Eastern Australia – largely Riverina with some King Valley juice).
It irks that the pitch is sustainably-made, but it’s just a sticker. There’s little details of what this even means – it’s not organic, and basically comes from wherever.
What really really irks is the missed opportunity. Digging around the De Bortoli website, and it’s obvious sustainability is more than a buzzword for the family (see some of these initiatives). Plus, De Borts do so many new releases well. So why put generic juice in the bottle?
I wanted to like this, because I want to see genuine sustainability as the mantra of the industry. Less buzzword, more reality.
Except I didn’t like this. Not anywhere near enough. And this wine again serves a reminder that sustainability, as a concept, needs to be clearly defined, or it will end up suffering the same fate as terms like ‘boutique’ or ‘cool climate’…
Best drinking: now. 15.5/20, 84/100. 12%, $19.95. De Bortoli website. Would I buy it? No.