In Italian, the word grappa means "grape". Here, we understand it to mean a grape marc brandy with 40 to 50 percent alcohol by volume, which is mainly produced in northern Italy.
Most grappa is drunk young, as it already has an exceptionally rich aroma after its creation. Its production involves several processing stages, including storage in wooden barrels. It is worth mentioning the cultural importance of grappa: it is not just any spirit drink, but an alcoholic beverage, which some people call "the typical distillate of a nation".
It is only in the last few years that grappa producers, who are particularly attached to tradition, have started offering limited editions of a top-quality grappa. This grappa matures in small barrels (some of which only hold 27 litres) made from Italian woods of pear, apple, almond, cherry, mulberry and juniper, resulting in a complexity of aromas never before reached. With an ideal combination of distillate volume and wooden surface, a broad spectrum of aromas is created. With attentive tasting, new taste nuances can always be discovered, which go beyond the well-known velvety, round and at the same time tart taste of grappa. Of course, the length of the maturation in the barrels and the climatic conditions also have a decisive influence on the grappa.
The diversity of Italian grape varieties and the inventiveness of mankind in the almost 1,000 years in which pomace brandies have been produced have led to a huge variety of grappa varieties. Anag, the association of grappa and spirits tasters, has dared to attempt a uniform classification. The professional association divides spirits made from grape marc into the following categories:
- Young grappa: grape varieties with a neutral taste, natural bouquet, no storage in wooden barrels or addition of herbal essences.
- Young aromatic grappa: similar to young grappa, but made from aromatic grape varieties.
- Grappa aged in wooden barrels: brief ageing in wooden barrels gives it particularly characteristic organoleptic properties; however, the duration of ageing is too short to be considered old grappa.
- Aromatic grappa aged in wooden barrels: similar to grappa aged in wooden barrels, but made from aromatic grape varieties.
- Old grappa: aged for at least six months in wooden barrels, followed by six months of airtight storage; entitled to the additional designations invecchiata, stravecchia and riserva.
- Old, aromatic grappa: similar to the old grappa, but made from aromatic grape varieties.
- Flavoured grappa: addition of herbs or parts of plants or essences derived from them; fundamental alteration of the aromatic profile.
The large number of different grappa varieties allows connoisseurs a differentiated selection: A light, fruity grappa after a business dinner; a strong, older, richer grappa to relax after a large family dinner; a grappa flavoured with herbs to aid digestion.
The temperature has a significant influence on the intensity of the enjoyment. This refers to both the storage and serving temperature. Ideally it should be between 18 and 22 degrees. For a light, straightforward and slightly brandy grappa, it should be just under 18 degrees, for more aromatic distillates it can be a little over 20 degrees. This allows the more complex taste structures of an aromatic, dark grappa to develop better.
The rules for storage are the same as for wine: dark and at constant temperature. However, thanks to its high alcohol content, grappa is generally less delicate.
Our grappa producers
ANDREA DA PONTE
L'ANIMA DI VERGANI
VILLA DE VARDA
Grappa seminars with Vergani
Grappa - or rather Berta? You can find the article on our blog.
Grappa Tra Noi by Berta Limited Grappa, which was matured in Swiss wooden barrels