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In person with Sandro Bottega

One of the reasons why I like the Vancouver International Wine Festival so much is that it brings the wine world to Vancouver, and then gives you more than just a taste.Case in point was tonight, where we got to meet Sandro Bottega, the owner and the man behind the Bottega brand of Prosecco that many of us are familiar with. And for those who aren’t, it is the bottle on the shelf that is in all gold or rose gold.

Yes, I could easily search the internet and read up on the following myself, with a lot more detail mind you. However, hearing it first hand from the owner and the man of the evening himself, was so much more rewarding.

We were gathered at Bar Corso, shutting down Commercial Drive’s newer Italian lounge/restaurant. A handful of us gathered at the back, seated across the two booths.

We were greeted with Bottega’s flagship sparkling wine, paired with the restaurant’s excellent focaccia with balsamic and olive oil. We sipped light and easy with notes of honey and crisp apple as we settled in for a night of casual conversation.

Here, we got the history of Bottega from the owner himself. Not only did he design the brand’s iconic gold bottle, but is also the visionary behind the cylinder Voss water bottle and the bottle for the bold blue spirit: Hypnotiq.

Sando Bottega started working in a distillery at the age of 14, starting his own company 5 years after that, where Bottega was born in 1977.

Most of us, myself included were surprised to learn that Bottega is more than just Prosecco, and tonight we would be able to try 3 of their other spirits in application: a coffee liqueur, gin, and grappa.

As conversations grew louder we indulged in a Negroni Superiore cocktail. This was a classic negroni prepared with Bottega’s distilled dry gin in its handsome copper bottle. The name “Bacur” on the bottle means “copper” in Ancient Greek. The Bottega family of distillery prides themselves on their use of organic ingredients and reducing waste as they manufacture. The gin in particular is distilled five times in a distillery operating with geothermal systems, and engaged in sustainable measures.

Prepared with only three ingredients they had every intention of keeping things simple with sage cultivated from country side, juniper as the key ingredient in gin, and lemon; all filtered with water from the Alps. The result is a simple and clean gin that isn’t over complicated. Intended to be taken straight, but if mixing the suggestion is that it be with Mediterranean tonic infused with salt, sage, and strawberry notes. We also went into the history of gin, as a spirit born in the South of Italy, originally created as medicine.

As the night wore on we moved to our night cap. Espresso Bottega is their coffee liqueur produced with beans from Ethiopia, which Sandro declared the best in the world. He explained the process of the infusion using cold water instead of hot to help draw out extra flavours of the coffee ground before being infused with alcohol.

We would enjoy the spirit as is, noting how it was thick and syrupy like from a pump. I found it candy-like with a rich month-feel, and we all agreed that it would be great over ice cream as a dessert. Sandro described it as making him “Awake and happy” at the same time.

Sadly, having the Corso Espresso Martini right after left the cocktail feeling thin and wispy. Although watered down, still tasty. Prepared with Espresso Bottega, Bottega’s Grappa Alex, lucano, a double shot of espresso, and demerara syrup.

This we enjoyed with a Bar Corso’s selection of imported meat and cheese board accompanied by house preserves, crostini, and crackers.

From here Sandro spoke to his luxury brand of grappa, packaged in hand-blown murano glass, as he showed us photos of some of the ornate elements built into some of his bottle designs.

Sandro was a gracious host, happy to engage and willing to help us prop and hand model his bottles and all the cocktails prepared with them.

In closing, this was an amazing experience, only growing my appreciation for the brand that I have purchased so many times, and now have a new found appreciation for.

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