Grappa Week – Day 3: Terre Antiche Grappa Amarone Riserva (42%, Roberto Dellavalle, 70 cl)

Grappa Week LogoWell this is a first. Starting a Master Quill week and really disliking the first two entries. I was hoping to show you that Grappa is a lot better now than it used to be, and the bad reputation is now false and far behind us. Where is this going? Since Amarone is such a stellar Wine, why not return to a, hopefully better, Amarone Grappa. Third time Lucky? By the way the picture is from Terre Antiche’s Grappa Moscato, but the reviewed Grappa Amarone looks pretty similar.

Terre Antiche Grappa AmaroneColor: Light sparkling gold.

Nose: Hay and dry grass. Like a good grappa should be. Warm haystack and oozes of summer. Wet cold tea leaves. Next the fruit. Hints of cherries and warm cherry compote. (not the sharp acidic smell, no, the soft and sweet part of the cherry smell). Citrus fruits, but like the cherries, not very acidic, but more the sweet and aromatic side of citrus fruits. Orange and tangerine. Nice balance and I like the overall smell. Compared to some other Grappa’s the smell gets more and more accessible. Hints of spicy wood. Lovely.

Taste: Yes it’s very sweet again! The taste matches the nose. Hay, grass, leafy and cherries are all over this Grappa as well, but not as much as the sugar is! It has a sugary sweetness you might remember from dissolving too many sugar cubes in your tea (when you were a kid). When the sugar film leaves your mouth, not a lot is left behind underneath the sweetness. Again a sort of Grappa Liqueur to make it more accessible and have a larger appeal to a wider public. Lots of the finer elements of the original Grappa are lost because it is drowned by sugar.

Easy to drink, but yet again lots of sugar. As a Liqueur it’s not even that bad this time. Better than the two previous Grappa’s in this Grappa Week, so we’re moving up. Although quaffable, I wouldn’t buy something like this. I’m very interested in Grappa and would like to have some top-notch stuff on my lectern. I do like the smell of this Amarone Grappa though, although nothing reminds me of Amarone at all. This sweet style is not something I’m looking for personally, and the amounts of added sugar is something, I guess, that is done to hide a lack in quality or make the product more interesting for lovers of Liqueurs. I think in this case, the latter is true, since this Grappa has a wonderful nose, so the quality is certainly there. Three rather inexpensive, and sweet Grappa’s down, four more to go…

Points: 69

Grappa Week – Day 1: Paesanella Grappa Amarone Barrique (41%, 50 cl)

Grappa Week LogoNothing nicer than writing about things you’re passionate about, so that’s why you’ll find mostly reviews about Single Malt Whiskies on these pages. Once in a while it is also nice to be able to broaden ones horizon and dive deep into another distilled world. Nothing better than a Master Quill Week to check something out intensively.

This time we’ll have a look at Italy’s famous, or should I say, notorious distillate: Grappa. For a long time Grappa had quite a reputation, and still today. When you talk to people about distillates, Grappa is thought of as a not-so-nice distillate. However, Grappa is starting to become noticed and sometimes even fashionable. Primary reason for this is the move towards high quality. I picked seven Grappa’s randomly, and all are Grappa’s I’ve never tasted before. The first Grappa we will try is a barrel aged Amarone Grappa by Grappa Paesanella. Not a lot of information is available about this brand, so we’ll have to dive in rather blind into this Grappa. What is Grappa actually?

Grappa is a grape pomace brandy from Italy, San Marino or the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Pomace are the left overs you get after pressing, when making wine: stems, skins, pulp and seeds of the grape. f.i. an Eau de Vie from grapes is made from the must, the freshly pressed grape juice, so it includes the juice. Grappa is made from the solid left overs and water is not allowed in its production. So steam distillation or au-bain-marie is the way to go when making Grappa.

Paesanella Grappa Amarone BarriqueColor: Light copper gold, with a slight pink hue

Nose: Sweet and winey. Very fruity. Extremely grassy. Hay. Creamy and slightly oaky. Grape seed. I’m not a connoisseur of Grappa’s yet  (I’d like to be), but having smelled quite a few Grappa’s before I have to say this has a typical grappa smell for me, and the finer points lie within the details that can be picked up besides the obvious. Although creamy (ice-cream), I do not pick up any vanilla, so I’m guessing French or Slovenian oak barriques were used. Probably a few from new oak, although not much if any. Full aroma. Nice developement in the glass with air. Keeps changing and changing in a subtle way. Grappa is interesting stuff.

Taste: Sugary sweet, almost like a Rum. Of all the Grappa’s I’ve tasted I never tasted something as sweet as this. I hardly would call this a Grappa, but more a Grappa based liqueur. I think I understand the (heavy) usage of sugar, it probably masks something, and makes the Grappa itself more accessible. Grappa can be hefty stuff you know. Understand, si, like it, no. It really tastes like a (dry) Grappa with a lot of sugar dissolved into it, like someone did this at home. Pity. It’s so sugary it’s almost difficult to try to detect something else here. Its like Grappa trying to be a 7yo Abuelo Rum. Slightly bitter and warming finish. This would also do nicely as a Jägertee.

I really dislike the added sugar flavour of this. The sweetness alone sets off my alarm and ruins this grappa for me. As a Liqueur, not really, as a Grappa: well, I can’t recommend it. I hope tomorrows expression will be better.

Points: 53

Arran “Amarone Cask Finish” (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)

Here is the second Arran on these pages. Earlier I reviewed a pretty good 16yo and usually Single cask bottlings at Cask Strength are very good to. When they start to fiddle a bit with their Whiskies I tend to not like Arran that much any more. So I don’t have high hopes for this funky colored Amarone finished Arran…

Arran Amarone Cask Finish (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)Color: Salmon (Somewhere between orange, bronze, light red and pink). Very strange.

Nose: Malty and very winey. Wine gums. We know its Amarone wine, but it smells more like a less fruity, Ruby Port. Fruity and dusty, woody and vegetal. This is hardly Whisky, but it isn’t wine either. Very simple and the wine overpowers everything. It’s hard to discern anything. No sense in nosing this any further.

Taste: Sweet, milk chocolate mousse, hard fruity candy, but not wine gums. Pretty harsh. To sweet for my taste and its a bit anonymous. What is it actually? The finish has staying power, but is a bit, ehhh, unpleasant for my taste. Funky, but not terrible. Don’t get me wrong.

Yet not uncommon, this is more or less one of the strangest colored Whiskies of late You don’t expect to have Whisky in your glass as long as you don’t smell it. Actually the smell isn’t quite characteristic for a Single Malt either. The Amarone wine dominates the color, but not the nose and for the taste, well, you be the judge. I would recommended this to a bartender, because to me it seems an excellent spirit for a summery cocktail. Something has to be done with this…

Points: 74