Marcs: a noble raw material
Everything good that you taste in a sip of grappa comes from the marcs…without these, this distillate wouldn’t even exist.
The quality of a grappa comes from the marcs before anything, or the remaining mass of skins and pips left after the grapes are pressed for wine, the “leftovers” that contain within them the heart of grappa. Once upon a time, marcs destined for distillation were stored in large cement silos, but the humidity in these containers leant acidic and pungent flavors to the final product because of the proliferation of mold and bacteria. Today, freshness and good conservation of the raw materials are essential to obtain a grappa without defects. The marcs are brought to the distillery while they are still moist and full of must; the more vigorously the marcs have been pressed for wine, the less aromatic the grappa will be.
While a winemaker prizes the entire grape, for us master distillers, the skins are most important. They are what give grappa its primary aromas: think of the complexity of aromas in vitis vinifera when a grape is plucked right from the vine, and you can easily imagine how much our products can differ from each other, delighting even the most demanding palates according to the quality and type of marcs used. Fortunately, the level of wine production quality has steadily risen in the past years and, by the same token, so has grappa.
Marcs: from virgin to fermented
No matter their provenance, marcs must contain alcohol before they are distilled. Only fermented marcs are ready for distillation; in other words, those that were used for making red wine. Because they ferment in the grape must, they already contain alcohol. We can also use marcs from the production of rosé wines, for the skins have undergone a brief maceration in the must, and these marcs are called semi-fermented.
Another type of marcs is called virgin. These come from white wine production, and not only are they rich in sugars and lacking in alcohol, but they must be fermented before using them in distillation. Marcs, therefore, must be carefully and attentively selected: the less time they are stored, the better the final result will be.
Over the centuries, we have learned not only how important the quality of the marcs is, but also how closely tied the grappa aromas are to the marcs. For this reason, in the world of grappa as opposed to other distillates, we can talk about single vineyard products. Carefully choosing the marcs and preserving their aromas are essential steps, so the terroir of the raw material can be exalted by an expert distiller.
Our Classics are a perfect example of how not only different grape marc blends but even different crus can give a grappa unique colors and aromas. Our Grappa di Arneis is elegant and delicately aromatic, whereas our Grappa di Barolo, from our Bussia cru, has a full flavor and ample aromas.