THE NEW GRAPPA AVAILABLE IN THE UK
Nardini, Italy’s oldest distillery, is launching an ultra-premium grappa range aimed at setting a new quality threshold for the country’s national spirit. Called ‘Selezione Bortolo Nardini’ in honour of the distiller who founded the family-owned brand in 1779, the new line includes an elegant ‘Bianca Extrafina’ and ‘Le Ramate’ - three extraordinary barrel-aged Riserva products. All four drinks are blended from Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Grigio grape pomaces selected from local DOC winemakers and distilled using Nardini’s distinct combination of pot still and column still techniques. Conceived to rank alongside the best spirits in the high-end digestive market sector, they are presented in stunning 70cl cut-glass bottle designs, inspired by Nardini’s futuristic Fuksas-designed ‘BOLLE’ building in Bassano del Grappa, Veneto.
The ‘Selezione Bortolo Nardini’ is the splendid result of a 20-year labour-of-love led by the Nardini Family alongside Master Blender Renato Mazzeracca and Andrea Manzoli, who directs operations the two Nardini distilleries in Bassano and Monastier. Consequently, as the international spirits authority David Broom observed in his pre-launch evaluation, all four grappas are ‘unmistakably Nardini’, showing clear family resemblances with the firm’s legendary Bianca and Riserva staples. However, they display ‘a wider, fresher, more tantalising aromatic spectrum’.
Rested in steel tanks for six months before blending and then rested for another six months before undergoing a further selection process, the 42% abv ‘Extrafina’ is floral and very fruity, with herbal elements and a nuanced complexity amplified with notes of banana, maraschino and ‘proving bread’. As Dave Broom confirms, ‘there is something both ancient in its aromatics and something entirely new’.
"SELEZIONE BORTOLO NARDINI IS A MAJOR MILESTONE FOR GRAPPA AND NOT JUST NARDINI"
The three ‘Le Ramate’ products are equally remarkable. Following the initial one year resting in steel, all three are aged in barrels sourced from the same oak forest in Slavonia (Croatia) that has been used by Nardini since it became the first-ever distiller to market aged grappa some 70 years ago. However, only the smoothest and sweetest batches from these barrels are ear-marked for the Le Ramate range.
The 42% abv Three-Year-Old Riserva is coherent, complex and refined, showing a clear sweetness as well as the ‘cooked fruit’ characteristics that have made Nardini’s core 40% and 50% Riserva products so popular, especially in export markets. At 45% abv, the Seven-Year-Old Riserva is more extravagant and spicy, but equally complex and Dave Broom has noted similarities with Cognac and even aged Genever. Not surprisingly, the 15-Year-Old Riserva is more wooded, but it’s also drier, with hints of creamy vanilla, chocolate, nuts and wild fruits – a superbly balanced drink. As Dave Broom concludes, ‘like the rest of the range, it does, I believe, offer a new dimension for grappa, one which stays true to its roots, but aligns it more closely with top-end wood-aged spirits – and as a result opens up the possibilities of new serves and occasions.’
Antonio Nardini, Managing Director of the seventh-generation family owned company believes the new ‘Selezione Bortolo Nardini’ is a major milestone for grappa and not just for Nardini. “As Italy’s oldest distiller and the country’s leading premium grappa brand, we are obliged to innovate rather than stand still. Since we only produce for ourselves and never for third parties, we apply much stricter criteria to the quality of the raw materials we use and the production techniques we employ.” Adds Nardini: “With the new range we have demonstrated our ability to produce elegant, exquisite distillates – and I am confident that we have set a new standard for grappa that will not only astonish many people, but lead to a greater appreciation for Italy’s national spirit amongst the most discerning drinkers in the world.”