Lhe valleys of Trentino preserve a capillary tradition of artisanal distilleries that produce grappa. There are about 30 of them, which make up 15% of all national production. The size is almost always artisanal and relies on the large quantity and quality of marc available, the result of a valuable wine sector.
An ancient story
According to Gaetano Perusini, a scholar of demology, the term grappa derives from the Gothic Krappa, which reached the Italian vocabulary through the Lombard people. "What is certain is that the term entered common use between the end of the nineteenth century and the following century", points out Alessandro Marzadro, vice president of the Institute for the Protection of Grappa of Trentino. For centuries grappa was the exclusive patrimony of the common people, of which it was a consoling element.
Scent of pomace
Today, as then, the pomace, that is the grape skin with the seeds and any residual must, are brought to a boil until alcohol is obtained in the form of vapor, which is then condensed, obtaining grappa. The productions, often artisanal, however, have been refined by selecting the raw material and taking particular care in the production process. So also grappa, a distillate that is only Italian, has entered the most prestigious establishments. And Trentino has become a home of excellence. So thanks to Trentino Wine and Flavors Road (a project of the Region that brings together different itineraries with a tourist and food and wine theme) we have designed a tasting itinerary that just touches the vineyards to venture among distilleries, stills and glasses (repeatable and customizable trips with the Viaggi del Gusto proposals).
A tour of the distilleries
Those who have made grappa a real luxury item, keeping its peasant roots, are Mario Pojer and Fiorentino Sandri. On the farm Pojer and Sandri Exclusive attention is paid to the material: before distillation, the pomace is deprived of its pips, marginalizing the roughness of aroma that it could cause. Essenzia grappa is recognized for its fruity scent that hides the right alcohol content and the full harmony of a round softness.
A short distance away Rossano Sandri, a teacher at the Agricultural Institute of San Michele all'Adige, produces grappa in a tiny factory. “Each family has always produced wine and grappa for itself. As a child I was fascinated by this mystery that transformed a solid matter into a transparent liquid. So I felt fulfilled when I was able to buy an old hand-beaten copper still ”, he says with emotion. Its Moscato grappa is ethereal and clean on the nose, sensual and harmonious in the mouth.
The Piana Rotaliana is the homeland of Teroldego, a fragrant and vigorous wine. So the Bertagnolli Distillery has developed a grappa (dedicated to Giulia de Kreutzenberg, wife of the progenitor of the dynasty) with copper stills and the bain-marie method, which releases the characteristic aroma of the grape, resulting at the same time balanced and handsome.
The art of Trentino distillation has a capital. It is the village of Santa Massenza of Vallelaghi, home of the Nosiola grape. At the end of the sixties out of 150 inhabitants there were 13 distilleries and of those only 5 remain. Enzo Poli della Maxentia Distillery he inherited the art of distillation from his father Valerio. He explains that “Nosiola grappa is recognized for its delicate aroma, with a vague almond aftertaste. But the spearhead is the grappa of Vino Santo di Nosiola, produced with the pomace of grapes that are pressed around Easter ". The nose recalls the walnut husk, in the mouth it is soft and balsamic.
Just north of Rovereto there is another cornerstone of Trentino grappa: the Marzadro Distillery was born in 1949 and still today, following the canons of tradition, the grandchildren make grappas with local pomace. Half a dozen young or vintage single grape varieties, white and transparent; as many multivitigno ones. But one of the strengths of the Marzadro Distillery is the grappa aged in barrels of different woods such as cherry, oak, ash and acacia. Fabiola Marzadro, one of the granddaughters, explains that “a grappa that has spent at least a year in a container such as wood, terracotta or other can be defined as aged; it gets old if the months spent in wood are at least 18 ”. So much so that the Diciotto Lune, very far from that brutally strong liquid that was considered grappa until a few decades ago, is the iconic product of distilleries.
Cuisine with grappa
The restaurants of the Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Trentino offer menus with tastings of local grappa. We have selected a few.
Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie (Arch). Typical and homemade cuisine, homemade pasta and desserts, grilled meat from our own farm. Owned by the Marzadro Distillery, it has an intimate and familiar atmosphere, it also has 2 apartments to rent.
Osteria "a le due Spade" (Trento). Born in 1545, during the famous Council of Trent, to welcome councilors, pilgrims, notables and simple travelers, it is led by the Peterlana family: the typical and at the same time creative cuisine is entrusted to the chef Federico Parolari.
From Pino (Grumo di San Michele all’Adige). V.enhances the flavors of Trentino and lake fish.
The Old Sawmill(Baselga di Pinè). Housed in an old Venetian sawmill from the early 1920s, the ristonate has been in the hands of the Bortolotti family for some years, offering dishes with wild herbs, flowers, animals raised or hunted in the surrounding area, cold cuts and cheeses.
Comano Cattoni Holiday (Ponte Arche). Sanctuary of the typical Trentino cuisine, it focuses on seasonal and zero-km products such as the ciuìga del Banale, the potatoes from Lomaso, the Spressa delle Giudicarie DOP, the Bleggio walnuts.
Gourmand tourism in Trentino
There Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Trentino also has a wide range of activities. Here are some ideas.
Events: all the initiatives organized or promoted by Trentino Wine and Flavors Road.
Manufacturers: all members, divided by territory or by production category.
Experiences: tours, tastings, treck and bike to discover the colors and flavors of the territory.
from Sale & Pepe Magazine October 2020
by Riccardo Lagorio
photo by Gianmarco Folcolini