Winery: Bottaia Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Montepulciano
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Brian Hulbert
4.3 out of 5 stars on Vivino (all vintages)
How They Describe It
The 2015 vintage of BOTTAIA spent a good portion of its élevage in our large casks, now homed in the upper deck of the Fermentation Hall at BOTTAIA. A smaller portion was put into more traditional barrels for just over 16 months. The final blend balanced the oak perfectly.
An ample nose profile offers notes of cedar, tobacco and black currant. The rich, powerful palate showcases white pepper, licorice and black berry culminating with spicy oak. The global adventure from nose through to the palate takes you first to Temecula Valley with powerful fruit forwardness of modern wine-making, then finishes in Europe with old-world, rustic style wine-making with firm, age-worthy tannin’s. -Winemaker Brian Hulbert
How I Describe It
The Bottaia 2015 Montepulciano shows with medium intensity, but dominant purple hues. Italian Montepulciano tends toward blood-red colors, indicating Bottaia’s version might have incorporated extended skin contact during fermentation.
Blueberries, raspberries, and black cherry hit the nose first. Additional dried blackberry scents make very clear Bottaia’s grapes were given ample time to ripen on the vine before harvest. By contrast, traditional Montepulciano fruit aromas come across as more tart. Bottaia’s choice allowing the fruit to develop longer is not a bad thing. There is also an interesting floral component to the 2015 Montepulciano — reminiscent of violet potpourri and lavender — accompanied by vanilla and butterscotch.
The first flavors to emerge from the Bottaia 2015 Montepulciano are dried blackberry, cranberry, blueberry, and dark cherry. Bread dough, cedar, vanilla, and a touch of leafy herbaceousness make up the wine’s delightful undertones. Finally, hints of forest floor, cigar tobacco, and white pepper add spice and acknowledge the wine’s maturity.
This is a dry wine. At 15.2% ABV, alcohol is higher than Old World norms; however, this reinforces the likelihood that Bottaia’s grapes were allowed to develop on the vine longer. Tannins are high (i.e., prolonged skin contact), though they are very well matured after aging half a decade. The wine’s medium-plus acid aligns with Old World Montepulcianos, and augments the 2015 Montepulciano’s medium-plus body. The additional alcohol magnifies the rich fruit, giving this wine medium-plus flavor intensity, and a satisfying medium-plus finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
The younger sister property of Ponte Winery, Bottaia officially opened its doors in 2018, and positioned itself as luxurious, chic, and exclusive. In addition to unique resort offerings, tastings would be more expensive than most Temecula wineries, but focus on a higher-touch, more intimate experiences led by more educated wine stewards. Importantly, while most of Temecula’s wineries produce a mishmash of varietals, originating from all over the world, Bottaia chose to produce only Italian varietals. Moreover, Bottaia made it clear they were pouring a disproportionate amount of resources to produce quality over quantity.
They talked a big game. And if they fell short in any aspect it would have diminished the whole experience.
Fortunately, Bottaia delivered in spades. I’ll leave you to discover the ambiance for yourself. But they do incredible justice to the Italian wines they craft. While showcasing attributes expected in the varietal, the Bottaia 2015 Montepulciano features distinctly Temecula characteristics — like higher alcohol content, riper fruit flavors, and more robust body.
It’s no secret Italian varietals do well in the Temecula Valley AVA. However, in a way, Bottaia has done to Montepulciano what New Zealand winemakers did to Sauvignon Blanc. If not for the scarcity of Temecula’s wines, it wouldn’t be improbable that a Bottaia-style Montepulciano could develop its own following, just as some Sauv Blanc drinkers prefer New Zealand’s version to France’s.
When & How I Would Drink It
Montepulciano is considered “pizza-friendly” wine, and the Bottaia 2015 Montepulciano is just that. That said, I would err on the richer side of pizza for Bottaia’s version, considering the alcohol level and fruit ripeness. Whether making the pizza at home or ordering from a restaurant, opt for extra cheese, roasted or sautéed vegetables, and greasier meats like pepperoni or sausage. Horrible, right?
Also keep in mind this is a wine which can age beautifully for a long time. Bottaia crafted their Montepulciano as a fine wine, so even with five years of maturation, a patient collector could see a tremendously more interesting wine by holding on to it another 5-10 years.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $60 ($48 for wine club members)
Cases Produced: ~323 cases
Have you tried the Bottaia 2015 Montepulciano? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.