Single vineyard grappa and single variety grappa, what are the differences?
If it is true that grappa is a drink obtained from the simplification and reduction of matter to “essence”, then an essence is as better as its component of origin is purer.
It sounds like an alchemical principle, but it isn’t. Grappa needs excellent raw materials – pomace – to express its full potential. But in order to express a singular character, it needs unique pomace, not only fresh and of the highest quality, but coming from vintages that express the exceptional nature of a terroir or, even, of the cru from which they come.
For over 40 years this has been the challenge for Marolo.
Creating grappas capable of overcoming the concept of single grape variety, to embrace what in oenology is called “single vineyard”. Grappas that are exclusively from grapes of the best crus, and that reveal a purer spirit and more faithful to their territory, because they are the fruit of grapes from very restricted areas with outstanding winemaking value.
What are the main differences between single variety grappa, grappa made with pomace suitable for producing wine and single vineyard grappa?
Until the 70s, classic grappas were produced from undifferentiated pomace. The first known single-variety grappas were produced around the end of the nineteenth century, in Canelli, where the distilleries used Moscato bianco pomace. However, they were not yet intentionally single-variety grappas: they were obtained from a single variety of pomace because the area was specialized in a certain type of Moscato-based wine production. The first single-variety grappa produced knowingly to be such dates back to 1973. This small “Copernican revolution” has been possible thanks to the Nonino family, who registered the term single-variety, distilling the pomace of Picolit grape separately. Finally, a breakthrough: from then on, grappa began its slow path of varietal enhancement, becoming a spirit that is a little more connected to the territory to which it belongs, albeit in a still fairly vague way. In fact, single-variety grappa uses pomace of the same variety, but this does not imply that the pomace comes from a delimited area. A Vermentino or Nebbiolo Grappa, for example, can use pomace from a large area, as long as they belong to the same grape variety.
GRAPPA MADE WITH POMACE SUITABLE FOR WINEMAKING
A particular type of single-variety grappa that can be considered as such, obtained from pomace suitable for the production of a denomination wine. For example, Grappa di Barolo (or Grappa di Amarone) is a single-variety grappa made using Nebbiolo pomace that, by law, must come exclusively from the hilly area identified by the Barolo denomination. This typology constitutes a further territorial characterization of grappa, as the distillation will emphasize the monovarietal characteristics obtained from pomace belonging to a limited terroir.
SINGLE VINEYARD GRAPPA
It is impossible to say who was the first to make a single-vineyard grappa, one obtained from pomace coming from the sub-area of a wine-growing denomination, or a cru. What is certain is that since the 1980s, Paolo Marolo already had in mind the idea of producing unique grappas that could express not only the potential of a vine, but the micro differences that that same vine acquires growing and developing on certain soils and areas. The idea of creating single-vineyard grappas combined practice with theory. On the one hand, there was the desire of some excellent winemakers to create grappas linked to their most famous labels. On the other, in the Langhe there was a growing desire to define a “French” zoning, distinguishing the vineyard plots according to their historical, traditional and qualitative value. The newly established Marolo distillery– founded in 1977 – was probably the first to produce single-vineyard grappa from Barolo pomace. In the second half of the 1980s the Grappa single vineyard Enrico VI by Azienda Agricola Monfalletto was born, a vineyard selected within the Villero cru in the municipality of Castiglione Falletto. This was followed by other single-vineyard grappas, such as Grappa di Barolo La Serra and Brunate, cru of La Morra; Grappa di Barolo Cicala, cru of Monforte d’Alba; grappas Barolo Bussia, Colonnello and Romirasco (vineyards within the Bussia cru of Monforte d’Alba); grappas Barbaresco Rabajà, Arneis Renesio and Grappa di Barbera Moriondo, just to name a few.
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