Photo: Winemaker Daniel Bontorin
The current releases from Bottega Wine Studio reflect how methodically winemaker Daniel Bontorin and partner Kristine Witkowski are moving to achieve the goal of a winery of their own.
Daniel initially set out to carve a niche for himself by making only rosé for Seven Directions, a label owned by his partner. “We started out as a virtual winery with no brick and mortar building,” he says. “We considered doing other reds and whites under the Seven Directions brand. But we were known for being the only rosé specialist in Canada, and we wanted to keep it that way. From day one we talked about making single vineyard rosés exclusively. Rosé has always been one of my favourite wines to make.”
Daniel’s rosé-making pedigree goes back to the 2005 vintage when he made Vaïla, the outstanding rosé at Le Vieux Pin, a foundation for the current popularity of such wines.
Born in Surrey in 1976, Daniel pursued various careers, including importing motorcycle parts, until 2000 when he decided the real future was in wine. Since training at Okanagan University College, he has worked in the several Okanagan wineries including Le Vieux Pin as well as doing a vintage in northern Italy. Subsequently, he has become a consulting winemaker for clients including Volcanic Hills Estate Winery and Bordertown Vineyards.
Seven Directions was established in the 2012 vintage. Subsequently, Daniel and Kristine folded it under Bottega Wine Studio. “Bottega isn’t just a label,” Daniel says. “I am looking to make higher end wines from both red and white varieties.” Bottega’s initial releases included Viognier and Merlot. Because Bottega also was a virtual winery, Daniel and Kristine arranged to make the 2018 and some subsequent vintages at Saxon Estate Winery in Summerland.
In the next step to a winery of their own, the couple intend to plant a 1.4-hectare (3.5-acre) vineyard in 2020 near Cawston. The varieties are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Grenache, initially to support the winery’s rosé portfolio. “With red grapes, I have the flexibility in exceptional years to produce red wines and, with Pinot Noir, sparkling wine,” Daniel says.
The volumes so far of these two labels are small but the quality is high. Here are notes on four current releases.
Seven Directions 2018 Cabernet Franc Rosé Fruitvale Ridge Vineyard ($17.99 for 440 cases). The fruit is from 10-year-old vines in an Osoyoos vineyard. The wine has a delicate salmon pink hue with aromas and flavours of strawberry and watermelon. The structure is firm, fitting a dry rosé that calls out for food. 91.
Seven Directions 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé Tractor and Vines Vineyard ($20.99 for 195 cases). The fruit is from a tiny vineyard in Summerland. The grapes were cold-soaked for two hours, picking just enough colour to make the wine fashionably pale. It has aromas and flavours of wild strawberries mingled with citrus. The texture is juicy but bright acidity ensures a refreshing finish. 90.
Bottega 2017 Viognier ($20.99 for 3,250 bottles). The fruit here is 40% from Osoyoos and 60% from a Naramata Bench vineyard. Blending these two terroirs results in a wine with a creamy texture but also bright acidity to highlight the tropical fruits. The wine begins with aromas of citrus and apricot. On the rich palate, there are flavours of guava and stone fruits mingled with hints of brioche and nuts. 91.
Bottega Merlot 2014 ($38.99 for 720 bottles). This wine is a bold tour de force. Fully ripe grapes from a Naramata vineyard were treated to 45 days of maceration before and throughout fermentation. The wine was then aged 24 months in new Burgundy barrels. The wine begins with aromas of cassis and plum, leading to flavours of black currant, plum and black cherry mingled with cedar on the finish. The flavours are intense and the finish is long. 92.