To tell the story of Bottega, let us begin with the sticker. A visit to the vineyard by a commission is the first step in the process followed by wine tastings before the wines are bottled and shipped to various destinations. If the commission finds the taste agreeable, or up to standard, then the seals are issued. All Bottega wines have the D.O.C seal, a ‘sticker’ given by the government of Italy, on the bottles which attest to the vineyard having passed all the requirements set by the government, thus they are not to be sold as regular table wine. Getting the coveted sticker is not a surprise since Bottega is pernickety about making wine which begins with the selection of grapes. Take the Bottega Soave Classico D.O.C 2016, which comes from Soave City. Made from the best gargarega grape, a type sourced from the 355 varieties of local grape in Italy, it has become the quintessential soave with its medium body, flower-peach notes, and a slight bitter aftertaste of almond. Soave has been around and was very popular between the 1950s and 1960s, but the quality was mediocre. Bottega reintroduced it into the market with a taste that breathes quality.
Bottega was in Indonesia on 30 November 2018 for a Bottega Wine Dinner featuring five of their prized wines. Held at Hotel Mulia’s il Mare, it began with a pre-dinner drink of sparkling wine, Bottega il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco D.O.C., complemented by bite-size corn croquettes at the bar. Prosecco is strongly challenging the reign of champagne in the sparkling wine industry as the preferred drink for any occasion. Wine drinkers are now gravitating towards Prosecco for its fruity taste, low acidity, and low alcohol content compared to champagne. The lower alcohol content is due to the short fermentation period of only between 40 and 50 days. It fact, it is because of Prosecco that Italy has been named the largest wine producer in the world for the last three years. Served in a large wine glass instead of a traditional wine flute, I was told it was to let the aroma waft through the air and tickle the drinker’s nose.
Next on the menu was lobster roll with capsicum and heirloom tomatoes paired with Bottega Soave Classico D.O.C. 2016 which whet the appetite for the next dish and wine pairing of ossobuco agnolotti and Bottega il Vino dei Poeti Rosso di Montalcino D.O.C. 2015. Coming from Montalcino where only eight percent, or 24,000 hectares, of land is used as vineyards and the rest are planted with olive trees (think olive oil), grape production is very limited with each vine producing only 1.2 kg of grapes for quality wine.
Close at the heels of Montalcino 2015 is the vintage Bottega il Vino dei Poeti Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2010 which went well with the smoked grilled beef short rib with endive and mushroom that my friend had or, being a non-beef eater, the alternative dish of ravioli chicken mushroom I had. Brunello is made from a very sensitive type of grape called santroveza – its quality changes when there are changes to the area of cultivation. It must be aged for two years and resting in a bottle for four months to get that sophisticated taste and good acidity. A bottle of Brunello can be stored between 20 and 30 years.
Rounding up the wine dinner was the dessert wine Bottega Fragolino rosso and the digestif Grappa d’ Amarone Alexander, which is also produced by Bottega. The strong and smooth grappa helped to make room for the dessert soon to arrive. Fragolino is not new in the history of Italian wines. Produced from a type of grape called Isabella which tastes like strawberry, it was very popular between the 1930s and 1950s, but was banned by the government when wine drinkers decided to be wine makers in their own kitchens. In the 1990s, Bottega reincarnated it as the Bottega Fragolino rosso, a merlot cabernet-based wine infused with strawberry, which is prepared like Sangria, and mostly drank in the summer. But that night it accompanied the delectable dessert of strawberry tart with mascarpone, yoghurt mousse, and coconut snow to end the Bottega story on a sweet, fruity note.