You just haven’t tried the right one yet.
In the UK, you can expect any conversation about grappa goes the way of “I had a bad experience”. But everyone knew someone who said that about tequila or mezcal and they are dominating the cocktail scene at the moment – so when will grappa get some love?
In my experience, grappa is best drunk neat, and B.lo Nardini‘s new range, the Selezione Bartolo Nardini, is a great place to start. The oldest running independent distillery in Italy use a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Grigio pomaces to create the new selection: the Extrafina, and the three aged La Ramate. We tasted the new selection at the favulous Corinthia Hotel, London, led by Antonio Nardini himself.
This selection of warm, welcoming grappas are both a good place to start your grappa journey, as well as a place to end your meals – as traditional pomace brandies they work as fabulous digestivos either on their own or paired with after-dinner courses.
Getting straight down to business, the Extrafina has a powerfully floral nose, the palate begins with a hit of spice, followed by summer fruit, almost tropical – ending with a lasting banana and maraschino and a clean finish. An excellent digestivo to cleanse the palate.
La Ramate is where this 20 year labour of love shines: the three grappas are aged in Slavonian oak.
The Three year old Riserva has a nose of cacao and cherry, the palate is rich with wood. Much softer than the Extrafina, it is filled with butterscotch, cooked plums and peaches, enjoyable and surprisingly mature for its age. The three year is designed to be served with sharp cheeses and bitter dark chocolates.
The Seven year old Riserva stands out as my favourite of the lot! Powerful and spicy on the nose, it goes down dangerously easily. Szechuan spice and tobacco leaf dance with sour cherry to a honeyed finish, long and persistent. Adore.
The Seven year is paired well with sweeter desserts with its cocoa nuances.
Finally, the Fifteen year old Riserva is quite unlike anything I’ve had before. Intense and relentless, drier than the others but powerfully woody and rich with nutty flavour. Hints of vanilla and chocolate cut through the tobacco bitterness. I admire it’s complexity, and with its demanding and smokey flavour, it pairs well with cigars and dark chocolate.
And there we have it! A great place to start for those who still want to get to know grappa, or those who already know her well. These new releases by Nardini are a sure-fire way to introduce you to grappa, and that 7 year Riserva will be on my own shelf soon enough.