Ottimino was established in 1999 by Brad Alper and William Knuttel. Their first bottling was from the Ranch Bello vineyard. This is Alper’s winery in many ways, but Knuttel is the name that makes this project very interesting.
William Knuttel was the winemaker for Saintsbury in Carneros for 13 years, Chalk Hill Winery for another 7 years. Then he went on to Dry Creek Vineyard, where he worked as an executive winemaker until 2011. That doesn’t include his own winery projects, including his eponymously named winery and Tentadora in Cafayate, Argentina.
He is one of the most prolific winemakers in California, often producing dozens of different wines each vintage. He is known for his ability to work in multiple styles and maintaining a high level of quality. He may be the hardest-working winemaker in California today. Of his current projects, Ottimino (Italian for “Little Eight”) is his best. His work in Zinfandel has always been exemplary.
Wine Review: Ottimino 2009 Zinfandel, Rancho Bello Vineyard
Byzantium purple (or perhaps for the color geeks out there, Pantone #268). Aromas of licorice, black pepper, and allspice with a blast of red fruit. The palate is weighty but contains enough fresh blueberry and cherry to dance on the palate. Spoonfuls of dark and red fruits on the mid-palate and just enough earth note to keep it serious. Finish of vanilla and tarragon… and more dark fruit. Sourced from 25-year-old vines.