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Tales From The Top Shelf: Grappa

A bottle of Marolo grappa from Brunello di Montalcino clocks in at about $60.
A bottle of Marolo grappa from Brunello di Montalcino clocks in at about $60.
Photo by Kate McLean

Grappa is intense; yeah, it can sometimes be compared to "paint thinner," but looking past the high proof, there exists an intoxicating aroma and layer of fruitiness that some people really geek out on.

Marolo is an excellent distiller of grappa with a catalogue including the viticultural zones of Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino as well as varietals like moscato, gewürztraminer, and amarone. Since opening up shop in 1977 in Alba, Piedmont, the Marolo family has been distilling pomace from some of the finest wine regions in Italy.

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After the first step in creating, say, a delicious red wine is complete— the juice that's been fermenting among grape skins has been strained and allowed to age— leftovers like skins, seeds, and stems aka the pomace, are distilled to make a spirit that also mirrors the grapes and terroir, just like the wine. Duh, because it's the same ingredients.

Finished enjoying a dope Amarone with dessert and looking to pump up the volume? Try a grappa made from the same grape.

It's a matter of opinion, but I think grappa made from sangiovese grosso in Brunello di Montalcino is the best. Thomas Keller and I both really like that region.  It's hot on the nose for sure, but instantly afterward bright, fruit aromas of green apple and peach reveal themselves. The fun thing about this spirit is that you can pick these iconic denominaziones like Barolo, Valpolicella, and Montalcino and experience the grapes and terroir, just in a different way.  

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