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These words are unforgivably overdue. But better, as they say, late than never.
They were prompted by a chance meeting with the irrepressible Sandro Bottega (above) at the Duty Free Show of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale last week,
That encounter reminded me of one of the industry’s most poignant announcements of recent times when Italian grappa specialist Distilleria Bottega announced the passing of its co-founder Rosina (known to most as ‘Rosy’) Zambon Bottega last December.
The 68 year-old Rosina (pictured below) was born in Sardinia, the daughter of Venetian immigrants who had settled on the island in the 1930s following the land reclamation projects of the Fascist era.
In the 1960s, the family returned to the Veneto region and Rosina met Aldo Bottega who became her husband. In 1977 they founded Distilleria Bottega, giving their name to a business that absorbed them both completely.
In 1983 after the premature death of Aldo, Rosina found herself at a crossroads, but she did not lose heart. Her then-19-year-old son Sandro (and later her younger children Barbara and Stefano) became an integral part of the small, family company.
Down the years, driven by an extraordinary, unrelenting focus on excellence and human values, Bottega has flourished. Today it is a great spirits and wine company, a great expression of Italy, and a great testament to the enduring power of family values. Bottega enjoys a particularly vibrant presence in the inflight duty free channel, where it is represented by Imagination Unlimited International (the driving force behind Inniskillin’s amazing duty free success) and can be found on 44 airlines.
Bear with me while I recite the words with which Distilleria Bottega described Rosina’s love of the spirits business. “Rosina Zambon Bottega was an all-round entrepreneur, gifted with an out-of-the-ordinary spirit of initiative and great managerial skills. At first glance she could single out quality marc that would produce soft and fragranced grappa.
“She had a master distiller’s sensitivity and felt at ease among the alembics, fascinated by the alchemic magic of the distillation process. Her taste for quality and beauty underlay the great many new distillates and innovative bottle packaging solutions that she created. Her direct and sincere manner always stood out for its balance of affection and authority.”
With a view to promoting the company, its values and its native country, Rosina devised the Premio Bottega, a prize awarded periodically to a great name in art, cinema, literature, culture or sport thought to epitomise the talent, creativity and intelligence of Italy.
Rosina Zambon Bottega was linked by a long friendship to Al Bano Carrisi and Stefania Sandrelli. Together with her partner Giovanni Soldati, Sandrelli dedicated the following words to her: “Rosina, a tender, fragile name, with a whiff of a smiling child. Living life with a smile, you tenaciously tackled things head on, with justice on your side. You had the instinct of a great woman, and were at the head of a wonderful family. With the support of love given and received, you knew you were a point of reference for everyone in your work and in your life.
“I still remember you sitting next to the great fireplace in the distillery, enthusiastically greeting me with fondness and good cheer…in all serenity. I bow before you and send you my final farewell.”
There is not much one can add to words of such emotive beauty. So Rosy’s son Sandro simply created his own uniquely appropriate tribute – a glass-blown bottle of Bottega containing a single, hand-made red rose (shown below).
What a lovely tribute to a great woman. Bottega Rose is available onboard Korean Air (the only airline currently carrying the line) through Imagination Unlimited International and local agent Brandepot.
If you fly with the airline why not buy a bottle and give it to someone you care about – friend, family or partner? After all, it is a beautiful, tender – and literal – expression of the spirit of love.