We first encountered the young Kiwi, Graeme Bott, in the days when he and Julie were both working for the great Stéphane Ogier. We have kept in touch and 8 years later we are delighted that he and Julie are now married and have set up on their own. 2020 is their fourth vintage release and we could not be more excited.
Graeme's talents as a winemaker were never in doubt. To have become Chef de Cave for Stéphane Ogier is no mean feat, especially for someone from the 'outside' and New Zealand is a long way from Ampuis! This natural ability combined with relentless energy and creativity from them both has resulted in Domaine Bott.
'Les Kiwis d'Ampuis' have been resourceful in finding plots for vineyards. As newcomers they were never really in the market for buying existing, established vineyards. Prices here are now stratospheric. So, they got creative. First of all, their garden! This plot of land is within the Condrieu appellation, so they quickly planted vines and have a parcel here. In other zones they have studied the geology and history of the slopes in the northern Rhone. Identifying areas of rough land that were once vineyards, pre-phylloxera, but have since never been replanted. These plots were affordable, so the couple planted all the vines themselves and rebuilt the old stone walls. Today the estate has grown to 6HA through this resourcefulness and sheer hard work.
Their vineyards are now spread between Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Seyssuel - and they have recently moved production from their two garages to a winery in Ampuis.
They want to make wines they want to drink and love finesse and poise. This means early picking of the white grapes to retain brightness and acidity and only 3 or 4-year-old barrels are used for the élévage.
Vineyard work on the reds is intensive - Graeme believes that wines are mostly 'made' before the harvest, on the vines. For the Botts, it’s all about the purity of the fruit and transmitting that sense of place. In the cellar they have an artisan approach, very gentle maceration - more of an infusion with a gentle single pump over each day, no punching down or effort to extract more grip or colour or flavour. The wines are a delight. There is a sleek feel and a softness that belies the smart intensity. They have lift and poise. Never over-bearing but they make you sit up and take note.
On this first HK release of these wines you can see the sheer class of what they are doing here. These are impressive, very likeable wines made on a small scale by a passionate and very skilled couple - it is no wonder they are already turning heads.
Watch the videos: Domaine G&J Bott.