The First Urban Winery in the Okanagan Valley
Ricco Bambino is a different type of winery. Newly opened in the heart of downtown Kelowna, this is the Okanagan’s first urban winery. Every vintage, they select only the best organic grapes from vineyards throughout the South Okanagan Valley. With quality grapes and a light winemaker’s touch, Ricco Bambino has a portfolio of electric, terroir-driven wines.
Ricco Bambino is fundamentally different from other wineries and wine bars in the Okanagan and beyond. The design of this space is an extension of the wines that are crafted and served. A combination of pastel-toned pink walls with an Art Deco-style reflect the essence of the wine within a physical space. The goal is to achieve a lightness and a sense of celebration when you walk through the front doors. Ricco Bambino is opulent, fresh, daring, bright, airy and a bit of fun while showcasing their expressive and lively wines perfectly.
The People + Story Behind the Wines
Owner, Jason Alton is a Kelowna native who, since 2002, has been involved in the premium denim business in Australia, South East Asia and New Zealand. In 2015 he decided to sell his shares in the company, Nudie Jeans, and move back to Kelowna. A goal for Jason was to conceive a product to share internationally so it brought attention not only back to the product, but back to the region as a whole.
Jason started Rico Bambino as a result of many years drinking wine from the Valley from various sub-regions and wanted to create something different. He envisioned clean, single varietal wines that spoke of the area without the use of oak and the flavours that it imparts in wine. Rico Bambino wines are made in a minimal intervention style so nothing is added and nothing is taken away. All of the wines are single varietal and most of them are from a single vineyard. Only native yeasts are used as opposed to adding commercial yeast and the majority of the wines are unfined and unfiltered.
On-site at Ricco Bambino there is very limited space to work with so they have 3 unlined concrete tanks, which creates about 500 cases of the 3500 cases that they produce in total. It’s remarkable and revolutionary in the Okanagan that they are producing wine in an urban centre. The rest of the wine is being crafted at Okanagan Crush Pad under the direction of Matt Dumayne. Matt has a ‘less is more’ approach to winemaking that fits perfectly with Ricco Bambino’s hands-off philosophy. Okanagan Crush Pad is Canada’s first purpose-built custom crush winery facility. Located in Summerland, it’s a type of large wine incubator where they crush and ferment their own wines, Haywire and Narrative, as well as other smaller wineries’ portfolios.
Ricco Bambino is proudly one of the few Okanagan wineries that only uses concrete vessels to age their wines. This plays an important role in crafting the style of wine they love. Concrete is porous so ageing in these neutral vessels allows the wines to breathe and develop a round, textural feel without the addition of any flavours imparted by the use of oak or additives. Creating these pure and authentic wines with wild yeasts and minimal intervention brings out the authentic taste of the land.
Organic grapes are hand harvested from Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos in whole clusters. The fermentation begins with nothing more than the wild yeast that occurs within the vineyard. This process is somewhat risky; however, it’s the only sure way to craft wines that reflect the area where the grapes were grown and the vintage.
The long-term goal for Ricco Bambino is to plant their own organic vineyards to ensure they always have enough organically grown grapes for the portfolio. In fact, they just purchased 12 acres in the Oliver area near McIntyre Bluff. Ricco Bambino South will have a tasting room too, so you can taste the wines in two locations.
About the Wines
As a brand new winery, Ricco Bambino is thrilled to have a chance to share their bright and electric wines with OWC members. To begin with, bubbles! Both the 2017 Very Troubled Child Rose Brut and 2017 Kicked Out of the Country Club Brut are made in the Charmat Method. Unlike Traditional Method fermentation, whereby the second fermentation happens in the bottle, with Charmat or Tank Method it takes place in a large, closed pressurized tank. Also called Metodo Italiano, this route is taken when you want to preserve the freshness and intensity of the grapes’ aromas. Next is the 2017 Rose, made with 100% Cabernet Franc. This is a wild ferment in stainless steel for aromatic retention. This savoury rosé is an exceptional representation of land and a light hand in the winery. The 2017 Viognier is a single-vineyard wine. A wild ferment occurred in concrete at slightly warmer temperature for enhanced textural aspects followed by concrete ageing on gross lees for a further 6 months. This wine is unfined and unfiltered.
It’s very rare in the Okanagan to taste red wines that haven’t spent time in oak. Both of these reds are incredibly bright, juicy and structured. Both are also unfined and unfiltered for full palate concentration. The 2017 Merlot is layered with great texture and mouthwatering acidity and notes of concentrated blueberries, dark chocolate and fig. 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is big and beautiful. Look for flavours of blackberry, tobacco, violet and coffee. Decanting is recommended for both of these wines.
Ricco Bambino is proud to be a minimal intervention boutique winery, producing expressive, small batch, and single varietal offerings. Come for a taste, stay for a glass, leave with a bottle.
Selected Wines for Ricco Bambino
2017 Kicked Out of the Country Club Brut | Ricco Bambino | $39.00
Tasting Notes | Fresh lemon zest, white peach, freshly baked bread and tea rose on the nose of this dry and lively bubbly. The mousse is elegant but persistent with lean palate notes of white cherry, pear and wet stone.
Pairing | Grana Padano cheese.
Drinking Recommendations | Chill and enjoy. Repeat.
Why We Chose It | This sparkling Brut is made in the Charmat Method. Unlike Traditional Method fermentation, whereby the second fermentation happens in the bottle, with Charmat or Tank Method it takes place in a large, closed pressurized tank. Also called Metodo Italiano, this route is taken when you want to preserve the freshness and intensity of the grapes’ aromas. For this wine, the ferment was dry and cool in stainless steel. Sustainably farmed Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir were grown in sandy soil from the South Okanagan and hand harvested in mid to late September 2017.
Cases Produced | 250
Alc. 12% | TA 7.6 | RS 12 |
2017 Very Troubled Child Rose Brut | Ricco Bambino | $39.00
Tasting Notes | An inviting nose of cherry blossom, strawberries and cream and bright red cherries. A rich yet crisp palate is accentuated with fine, persistent bubbles. This is an opulent wine that is meant for everyday celebrations.
Pairing | Fennel salumi.
Drinking Recommendations | Chill and enjoy. Repeat.
Why We Chose It | This sparkling Brut is made in the Charmat Method. Sustainably farmed Pinot Blanc and Organic Pinot Noir were grown in sandy soil from the South Okanagan and hand harvested in mid to late September 2017. The ferment was dry and cool in stainless steel.
Cases Produced | 250
Alc. 12% | TA 7.7 | RS 8 |
2017 Rosè | Ricco Bambino | $27.00
Tasting Notes | A pale salmon colour, this Rose smells like wild strawberries, orange blossom, red grapefruit and soft forest floor. The palate is crisp and refreshing with a mouthwatering minerality and notes red apple, blood orange, dried Okanagan herbs and river stones.
Pairing | Catalan heirloom tomato bread.
Drinking Recommendations | Chill and enjoy.
Why We Chose It | The Cabernet Franc rosé varietal has a reputation for producing some of the world’s finest rosé wines. This wine is 100% Organic Cabernet Franc that is grown in rocky soil over glacial deposits in the South Okanagan. Nothing added and nothing taken away, this is a wild ferment in stainless steel for aromatic retention. This savoury rosé is an exceptional representation of land and a light hand in the winery.
Cases Produced | 350
Alc. 12.5% | TA 7.1 | RS 3.2 |
2017 Viognier | Ricco Bambino | $29.00
Tasting Notes | An expressive and electric nose of apricot, honeysuckle, pineapple, jasmine and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This wine has a rich texture, yet it is bone dry, unique, plush and textured. Expect palate notes of lemongrass, crisp nectarine, and white rose petal with a long, unctuous finish.
Pairing | Creamy prawns with fresh bird’s eye chili and handmade farfalle.
Drinking Recommendations | Chill and enjoy or cellar for up to 5 years.
Why We Chose It | This single vineyard Viognier was grown in glacial deposits of loamy sand from the Rock Pile Vineyard in Oliver. The grapes were hand harvested on Nov 16, 2017, after a long growing season. A wild ferment occurred in concrete at slightly warmer temperature for enhanced textural aspects followed by concrete ageing on gross lees for a further 6 months. This wine is unfined and unfiltered.
Cases Produced | 400
Alc. 15% | TA 5.3 | RS 0 |
2017 Merlot | Ricco Bambino | $45.00
Tasting Notes | A ruby colour with aromas of dark cherries and raspberries with smoked meat, dark chocolate and birch bark. Richly textured with bright acidity, firm tannins and great structure, this Merlot is deliciously unique. Expect flavours of fig, wet stones and wild, concentrated blueberries.
Pairing | Lamb with mint-pistachio pesto.
Drinking Recommendations | Decant for 1 hour and enjoy or cellar for 5 years.
Why We Chose It | This is 100% Organic Merlot, wild fermented, aged in concrete, unfined, and unfiltered.
Cases Produced | 500
Alc. 13% | TA 5.3 | RS 0.7 |
2017 Cabernet Sauvignon | Ricco Bambino | $45.00
Tasting Notes | Aromas of violets, blackberry, cassis and charcoal jump out of the glass. This is a focused, balanced wine with great structure and length. Look for palate notes of currant, coffee, tobacco and roasted red beets.
Pairing | Bacon-wrapped porchetta.
Drinking Recommendations | Decant for 1 hour and enjoy or cellar for 7 years.
Why We Chose It | This is 100% organic Cabernet Sauvignon that is wild fermented, aged in concrete, unfined, and unfiltered.
Cases Produced | 250
Alc. 12% | TA 5.8 | RS 0 |