Top 9 Italian Grappa brands
Grappa is a well-known liqueur, not only in Italy. It is a spirit with an ancient history. The first written records of the distillation of marc date back to the fourteenth century and place its origins on the Italian side of the Alps, however it was not the grappa we know today, but a distillate obtained through rudimentary production methods. That brandy was in fact made by itinerant distillers who traveled from one cellar to another in search of pomace with which they then produced highly alcoholic distillates.
Distilled from the grape marc brandy plant, grappa is an exclusive product of the Italian territory, from which it originates and where it is still produced today, keeping alive the flavors and traditional artisan methods. The marc is the part of the grape that remains after pressing and consists of the skin and seeds. The fermented pomace, obtained from the vinification, are separated from the wine and placed as soon as possible in an alembic, where they will be squeezed of their alcoholic and aromatic component. The distillate obtained must have an alcohol content of less than 86%, but generally it remains between 70-75%, especially if discontinuous devices are used.
There are many types of grappa on the market, classified according to different parameters. The first element that differentiates a grappa is the grape variety, which allows us to recognize if it is a single-variety grappa, that is, obtained from marc from at least 85% of a single grape variety.
Grappas also undergo aging in barrique, in those same barrels that previously housed the same wine from which the marc used comes. Based on aging, grappas can be divided into old, or aged, if the maturation period was at least one year in wooden containers, in reserve and extra aged if it was at least 18 months, always in wooden containers.
But which are the best grappas that can be found around? Here are the best brands.
This grappa is produced in Piedmont. Sibona distillery was born in Alba about 100 years ago, in an area of Piedmont rich in noble vines such as Nebbiolo (from which Barolo and Barbaresco are obtained) and those of Moscato, Dolcetto, Barbera, Chardonnay, and Brachetto. Liqueur obtained from distillation and aging, in Madeira barrels, for over two years, this grappa has a unique and intense flavor. The manufacturer, which prepares different types of this liqueur, also offers a beautiful and elegant bottle and packaging that is excellent for a gift. Sibona defines itself as an “artisan company”, with the production of single-variety grappas, through the distillation of fresh pomace, just brought to the distillery to preserve their aromas. The Gran Riserva is a multi-variety grappa in which the pomace comes from Moscato and other Piedmontese vines. After a careful selection of the best pomace used, the product is processed in copper stills, thanks to the experience of qualified winemakers. Refinement takes place in stainless steel tanks. Afterward, the distillate is aged for 2 years in oak barrels and for the last 24 months in barrels that have contained Madeira. Madera is a Portuguese wine, fortified and strong because it can withstand very high temperatures, improving its characteristics and flavor. These characteristics, of course, pass into the distillate that matures in these barrels. The alcohol content is 44%, and the packaging is refined, with a graduated bottle (protected by a patent) to indicate its content, as was the case in the containers of the old herbal shops.
GioBatta Poli, the founder of this distillate company, set up his distillery in 1898 in Schiavon, near Bassano del Grappa, in Veneto, a region very rich in grappa production. Poli has also build the first Grappa Museum, in Bassano, in front of the famous Old Bridge. Poli defines itself as an “artisan distillery” because grappa is processed in small batches. This Poli grappa, Sassicaia denomination, is distilled in small quantities according to traditional methods, and then left to age in oak barrels, very precious wood. This Sassicaia grappa has a very deep and complex flavor on the palate, characterized by strong but not overly alcoholic notes. Hints of wood, coffee, licorice and cocoa, enriched with a slight hint of vanilla, kidnap the nose of those who try it, giving intense sensations. Grappa Sassicaia takes its raw materials, the marc, directly in Tuscany, near Livorno, with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, in particular way from the San Guido di Bolgheri estate. The pomace of Sassicaia is left to ferment in its must, then they are transported to the distillery and processed immediately in ancient copper stills in steam-powered boilers, in a discontinuous cycle. The final grappa is stored for 4 years in barrique and in the last 6 months in oak barrels, where the Sassicaia wine was previously deposited; in this way it receives aromas and perfumes, which are then conferred to the grappa itself.
The Berta family began its history from 1866 dealing with spirits and in 1947 they founded their real distillery in Asti, in Piedmont, and it has remained in the hands of the Berti family until today, with the fourth generation. At the end of the Second World War, in crisis period, when it became clear that aged grappa was highly appreciated by consumers, Paolo Berta, in order not to sell off, tried to preserve his grappa production in wooden barrels, giving rise to a brilliant and very fruitful tradition economically, later imitated by other producers. The Berta family, from generation to generation, have always stood out for the need to improve their products to make them better and better, using raw materials of the highest quality. Berta Piasì is a grappa obtained from the marc of Brachetto, a native vine grown in the Asti area, which gives rise to a soft and delicate wine, whose characteristics are found in the grappa. The pomace is stored fresh in food containers and, thanks to a small vent valve that allows the carbon dioxide to escape, they can ferment while remaining very fresh. Subsequently, the pomace is distilled in copper steam boilers, using the discontinuous method. The grappa is then placed in stainless steel containers and subsequently left to age for 12 months in oak barrels, placed in underground storage.
This grappa ranks among the best in Italy in terms of customer satisfaction. Produced from a wine originating from Amarone della Valpolicella, in Veneto, it is once again an all-Italian product, exquisitely as well cared for in distillation as in presentation. Among the various positive aspects that customers have praised about this grappa, the flavor and aroma stand out, a mix of spices, fruity notes and aromas of pleasant intensity. These are not overly darkening scents, on the contrary the softness and pleasantness of this excellent Venetian product is often mentioned. Bonollo OF comes from 100% Amarone della Valpolicella pomace, obtained from Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone grapes. It is then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, thanks to which it acquires the typical amber color and the characteristic scent of vanilla and caramel. The Bonollo distillery has been in the hands of the same family for four generations, always family-run since 1908, acquiring more and more experience. The packaging of the bottle, in a refined black box, is enriched by an elegant copper foil, with the word OF, which recalls the ancient stills in which the first grappas were distilled.
Mazzetti is a distillery founded in 1846 in Piedmont and permanently located by the founder’s son in Altavilla Monferrato, where it still exists today. Even the Mazzetti family remained the owner of the company for many generations, up to the 7th generation, in fact. Grappa Mazzetti 7.0, single-variety, was proposed on the occasion of the company’s 170th anniversary and was made with particular attention to young people, their alcoholic tastes, and their choices of low environmental impact. The Ruché vine, from which the fresh and moist pomace used for this grappa comes, is indigenous and rather rare: it produces very few bright red grapes, very sugary, to obtain an aromatic wine, which is rich in tannins and polyphenols, and became DOCG in 2010. It is important to say that the distance between the cellars and the distillery is just 10 km, so we can speak of zero distance and zero environmental impact, thanks to the use of renewable energy sources. The alcohol content of Grappa Mazzetti 7.0 is 43%, and is an excellent product that is distilled for 1 year in steel tanks.
Grappa di Amarone legno Capovilla is by far one of the best on the market. It is very particular in the production process and refined in taste. The process is the result of a way of producing grappa that comes from afar and evolves thanks to the experience of the numerous trips made by Vittorio Capovilla, the owner of the distillery: already in the 70s the search for new frontiers led him to experiment new ways of producing grappa, other than home-made ones. Capovilla is famous not only for the production of high quality grappa, but also for its ability to create unique fruit distillates in the world. At the heart of Capovilla’s work is the great importance of raw material. In fact, if we start from an exceptional raw material, the final product can only be excellent. Therefore, the first real and great job is to go in search of the best raw materials. Grappa di Amarone legno Capovilla, with an intense and spicy aroma, comes from the pomace of Corvinia, a typical grape of Veronese, in particular of Valpolicella. The pomace, chosen with great care by Vittorio Capovilla, must be completely healthy and must not have undergone chemical treatments. They are then distilled in a discontinuous cycle in a water bath. The distilled product is then left to age for about four years in oak, ash, black locust and cherry barrels, in order to enhance and make the intrinsic qualities of the product itself more complex.
One of the brands that best represents Italian grappa in the world is Bonaventura Maschio, which has been producing top quality grappa for over a century. The factors of this great success are the bond with their land, its ancient traditions and the desire for innovation, which have led the members of the Maschio family to specialize in the development of one of the most authentic Italian products. Grappa 903 from the Bonaventura Maschio distillery is certainly among the best barricaded grappas, with an excellent compromise between quality and price. Grappa Barrique 903 is produced by the historic Bonaventura Maschio Distillery, created by the homonymous entrepreneur in 1903 in the Treviso province. It is obtained from the pomace of different types of vines, which are distilled separately and then combined. A long aging in French oak barrels concludes the journey, embellishing the Grappa Barrique with complexity and peculiar amber-golden hues. The fruit scent suggests the aroma of ripe peach and apricot, on a complex spicy background texture that comes from prolonged contact with wood. In the mouth this grappa it is soft, velvety and it has an excellent balance. An ancient awareness for the pleasures of life from which grappas are born to be savored slowly.
Nonino is one of the most famous brands of Italian grappa and one of the most famous Italian distilleries in the world, a true symbol of tradition, quality and prestige. This company was founded by Orazio Nonino in 1897; after years of traveling with an alembic mounted on wheels, he established his headquarters in Percoto, not far from Udine, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. For over 120 years the business has remained in the hands of the Nonino family which, in its long history, has managed with increasing success to fulfill an important mission: to bring Italian grappa to the world by transforming it from a rustic and peasant distillate to a noble and prestigious brandy, from a traditional daily product to a luxury item for important occasions. Starting in the 1960s, single-variety grappas were born, enhancing the ancient native vines of the area and revolutionizing the way of conceiving the Italian distillate par excellence. The raw materials used are very fresh pomace, left to ferment for a short time in steel vats at a controlled temperature. The distillation process is carried out with an artisanal method with steam-heated discontinuous stills. These operations are carried out under the supervision of the master distiller, who checks the quality of the raw materials by making use of experience and his sensory involvement. The Nonino family today owns 5 artisan distilleries for a total of 73 stills which, during the harvest period, are active 24 hours a day. For the refinement of the distillate, only barriques and small barrels are used, capable of giving a slow and constant enrichment natural, without the addition of other additives. Grappa Nonino is now known throughout the world as the Italian excellence of distillation. All labels are accompanied by detailed information on raw materials, the production method and any aging. Impeccable elegance, sensorial richness and stylistic rigor are the characteristics of this grappa that has become a model of inspiration for producers all over the world.
Carlo Bocchino has created one of the best Italian grappas born from Barbera grapes: the Barbera d’Asti Solchi grappa. Aged for 10 years, it has a scent of undergrowth, a clear amber color, and a soft and harmonious flavor. Carlo Bocchino passionate about grappas, in 1898 he decided to realize the dream he had been cultivating for a long time: to make single-variety grappa, unlike the many on the market produced from a mixture of marc. The idea was to give the same prestige of wine to grappa as well. His idea continued: he studied a new method of distillation and made his grappas pass for a period of aging in barrels. Soon his idea depopulated and was successful throughout Italy. It was his son-in-law Giorgio Micca who took over the reins of the distillery and thanks to his commercial spirit he was able to involve the presenter Mike Bongiorno to promote their grappas. This step brought Bocchino to the podium of the Italian Distilleries. Today the Distillery works with the same principles as the great-grandfather Carlo; Marta and Miranda carry on the family distillery with the same passion. Sigillo Nero Moscato is a grappa produced using the pomace of red grapes of Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Alba and Nebbiolo and is produced using a discontinuous still system. After the distillation it is left to rest in Slavonian oak barrels for 12 months, there the distillate refines its intense and warm aroma and the fragrant, dry and clean flavor.