With Beijing Event, Italian Grappa Producer Eyes China’s Niche Consumer

Venice-Based Distilleria Bottega Looks To Beijing Market

Alexander Grappa (Image courtesy of Bottega)

Alexander Grappa (Image courtesy of Bottega)

With mainland Chinese consuming an ever-increasing amount of imported wine and spirits, producers of everything from tequila to Bourbon continue to pile into the country, plying their wares to a rapidly growing middle class. Last weekend, the Venice-based wine and grappa producer Sandro Bottega, proprietor of the namesake Distilleria Bottega, introduced his products to the Beijing market at a dinner and tasting at Tavola.

With traditional Italian spirits like grappa and limoncello unfamiliar to most Chinese, producers like Bottega face an uphill battle in the crowded China alcohol industry. But with tastes shifting from baijiu to a wider range of drinks including Scotch, craft beer and sweet wines, these smaller producers may have more of a chance to tap niche consumer demand than we might imagine.

At the Tavola event, Jing Daily Beijing correspondent Zandie Brockett had a chance to learn about Bottega’s products and get a sense of their potential selling points in the Chinese market.

Defined as a spirit, similar to whiskey and vodka, Distilleria Bottega’s Alexander grappa derives from the skin of grapes. Using similar grapes to the very ones that bear wine or prosecco, the spirit is clear and with notes of fresh fruit, thus appealing greatly to a female crowd. However, unlike most liquor currently on the market, Grappa is unique in that it has the transformative ability to be blended with a number of beverages; it can be consumed alone or mixed into a fruity cocktail.

Fior di Latte (Image by Zandie Brockett)

Fior di Latte (Image by Zandie Brockett)

Further, Distilleria Bottega’s Grappa blended well with their signature limoncello, Limoncino, an aperitif, or with their white chocolate-hazelnut liqueur, Fior de Latte, which can then be poured into a coffee or espresso. Due to the smooth, sharp and fruity, yet unsweetened marks of this spirit, I find it to be one that would widely appeal to the Chinese palate.

From Left, Counterclockwise: Limoncino, Amarone, Prosecco Gold, Grappa (Image courtesy of Zandie Brockett)

From Left, counterclockwise: Limoncino, Amarone, Prosecco Gold, Grappa (Image courtesy of Zandie Brockett)

Sandro Bottega, the third generation of the Bottega family of winemakers and distillers, has expanded the family brand to include a wide range of products, beyond Grappa. Ranging from the full-bodied and spicy Amarone wine, full of delicious cherry notes, to their fruity Prosecco Gold — packaged in beautifully handcrafted bottles made at Bottega’s on-site glass blowing facility — Bottega meticulously creates his wines, liqueurs and Grappas from the grape-growing process to bottling.

Prosecco Gold (Image courtesy of Bottega)

Prosecco Gold (Image courtesy of Bottega)

Bottega’s glass facility, using traditional Venetian hand-blowing techniques, also creates each Alexander Grappa bottle by hand. As a further selling point, Bottega has proudly refurbished his family’s 400-year-old distillery in its entirety, updating it to be fully biomass-powered. Considering the premium that China’s high-end buyers increasingly place on brand history and heritage, the hand-crafted nature of Bottega’s bottles, the mystery of Grappa and other Italian traditional spirits, and the story of his family’s distillery could give it a strong base from which to grow in the booming Chinese market.

Biomass-Powered Distillery (Image courtesy of Bottega)

Biomass-Powered Distillery (Image courtesy of Bottega)

 

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Culture, Food, Wine, & Spirits, Industry Sectors