Project 'B' is a David and Goliath collaboration involving winegrower Michael Bartier, co-owner of Bartier Bros., a south Okanagan boutique estate, and acclaimed English négociant/winemaking force, Boutinot Wines.
Boutinot has long been known for making delicious wines at an affordable price. From humble beginnings, the UK wine distributor began investing in winemaking projects worldwide, working with like-minded partners and building an amazing business structure.
Today, Boutinot Wines is a leading UK-based distributor and producer of select wines from around the world. Its list is 1600 wines strong, with sales of 44 million bottles per year.
The philosophy and business model of partnering with growers in various regions spawned a growing team of winemakers, including their enthusiastic chief winemaker Eric Monnin, based in Burgundy. Initial roots were set down in the Rhone Valley at Carianne. From there, the business and exploration took them to South Africa in 1994. In 2003 they established a joint venture with Araldica, Coop in Piemonte, Italy and, more recently, the company bought a long-time supplier and now produces English sparkling wine at Henner's. Project 'B' is Boutinot's first reach into Canada after distributing its wines across the country.
According to Boutinot International, Country Manager for Canada, Megan Cole says, "The Name: 'B' surfaced as a constant in the partnership; a Boutinot – Bartier team, our first harvest from Plot B, and as a special nod to the Boutinot Rhone symbol of quality, the Worker Bee."
We are delighted to report the first releases are delicious and highly affordable ($20-$25). The second edition of a humble, sauvignon blanc, sourced from a premium, single-vineyard in Oliver and blended with a thimble of barrel-aged Semillon from the same site, is another jump up in intensity. Why sauvignon blanc? Monnin says, "Walking the vineyard with Michael, it was a feeling between the land and the way Michael was speaking about the sauvignon vines. Also, Michael has what I would call pixie dust in the vineyard, and this is where we decided to give some complexity, extra layers, and extra flavours to the wine by adding some barrel-fermented semillon. While [tasting] and discovering the breadth of the BC region, Michael and I blended our experiences of Northern Hemisphere climates to create this first cuvée. It was an amazing experience, and it is just the beginning!" Indeed the project has spawned a rosé in 2021, stretching its wings about but never wavering from its delicious mandate.
We spoke with both participants via Zoom to provide more background to this exciting project that will take the Okanagan Valley around the world quickly. We hope you enjoy the video. Look for updated notes posted June 24th, 2021, on Project B, Boutinot and Bartier at the end of the article, as well as a list of the private retailers in BC where you can purchase Project B.
To learn more: Boutinot