You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy boutique bottles that offer a completely different drop to the mass-produced supermarket varieties. Bacco, an online wine retailer (that delivers to your doorstep), specialises in high-quality, naturally-produced, Italian boutique wines at very affordable prices. We speak to wine specialist Laura Goddard on what constitutes a “boutique” bottle and how you can enjoy an artisan tipple.
Hand-made, artisan, small production wines
According to Laura, “small production, as opposed to mass production, is key”. The gems Bacco goes hunting for are produced by a guy on a farm, whose land has been in the family for generations. “These families know their stuff; they know their land – they’ve worked it for years,” Laura says.
The biggest draw is that with small producers, they don’t approach wine-making with the aim of catering to the masses by stabilising product taste – like a big-name mass production winery would do. Instead, “they’re just responsible for making the best wine they can make with the crop of that year.”
Summer in a bottle
When you hold a bottle of boutique wine in your hands, you’re literally holding the tastes and aromas of that specific Italian summer.
Laura is passionate about the unique tastes of boutique wines: “If the grapes were grown in Sardinia, on the beach, with a salty breeze washing over them every day – you can taste a bit of that saltiness from the sea; its amazing! With a wine from the South, you have these lazy grapes that are sunbathing all day and getting fat and sweet and sticky and hot. You press them and make this lovely sticky, hot kind of wine. Up north, you’ve got these delicate grapes, like Vitovska, the ‘grape of light’. Up there, there’s no soil and the vines grow 20 meters deep looking for nutrients and water, and they struggle. But the more they struggle, the more intense the grape – its one of the few examples of agriculture where you benefit from a hard environment. You get interesting wines when the grapes struggle.”
Who needs famous when you have quality?
Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten track, and look for a more obscure wine. That’s what small-production, artisan, Italian wines offer – a journey into the undiscovered. “Boutique winemakers are never famous or commercial,” Laura says. Instead, what you get is more authentic.
Italy offers a treasure trove of quiet achievers when it comes to wine-making. “People have the impression that French wines are superior in quality because the marketing has been done well. Italy tends not to spend so much on advertising. Italians are just busy making the wine, drinking it and not really worrying about anyone else understanding it.” The upside to this is that for the same price you would pay for a commercial, famous wine, Bacco offers a bottle of superior quality, giving you the best bang for your buck.
Laura’s top pick – Wine with a great story
Laura recommends Cata 2011, which is made from the rare Gaglioppo grape, an ancient variety only found in Calabria. A medium-bodied dry red, with vanilla and spice tones, sweet tannins on the tongue and a lingering finish. The wine is made by the iGreco brothers, represented by the family’s logo – the proud Calabrian sun surrounded by 7 rings. Laura loves that the brothers created their label themselves, with each ring representing a brother and the gaps between them representing their gaps in age.