With only 120 distilleries left in Italy today, the real craft of quality grappa distillation is dying.
Being able to capture the characters of the base material, the vinacce (pressed grape skins), distill it into a fiery spirit and then tame it, sometimes with oak, transforming it back to a smooth and warming core is extremely challenging.
The skill of the distiller is laid bare in these spirits.
Here are three of our favourites which share many qualities; they are all based in Piedmont, their vinacce is of the utmost quality and their grappas are handmade in miniscule amounts.
Levi Serafino Grappa
Tiny batches (about 300 bottles a year) are handmade to old family recipes using discontinuous distillation with direct fire in copper pots. Vinacce is sourced from some of the greats of Barolo/Barbaresco – Giacosa & Gaja for the nebbiolo grappa. All the grappas are aged for in either acacia, ash or chestnut oak.
Levi Grappa Gentile alla Camomilla
Named in honour of Romano’s sister, Lidia who invented this recipe. Heads of chamomile flowers are macerated in the grappa producing rich and delightful notes with a gentle softness on the palate.
Levi Grappa di Moscato
Produced primarily from vinacce sourced from Dante Rivetti, sweet florals of roses and orange blossom are tempered by a cardamom spice and red and orange citrus with a savoury edge.
Levi Grappa Riserva ‘Paglierina’ (Nebbiolo)
Rich and intense aromatics of smoke and earth with a core of licorice root. The firey palate is heart-warming and glorious with dense red fruits at the fore.
Capovilla Gravner Ribolla
Yes, ribolla gialla vinacce comes from Josko Gravner in Friuli. No additives on the vinacce, as you would expect from Gravner, this grappa is day brightand the purity is a clear standout. Fresh earth and yellow florals lead into a fine and finessed palate. Ageing in stainless steel retains its purity.
Marolo Grappa di Nebbiolo
Lifted aromatics of white florals, red berries and violets lead into a viscous palate that is ripe and smooth. Ageing in oak for 6 months has brought this beautiful grappa together. Refined and harmonious, subtle quirks of complexity build on the palate.