Andy Mossack enjoys some delicious digestives from Villa De Varda in time for Christmas available through Independent Wine.
Perhaps it’s the altitude or just the autonomy, but Trentino in Italy’s mountainous north has a proud tradition of producing gold-standard grappa. It’s a digestive that’s a perfect antidote to a day skiing on the winter slopes or after a heavy dinner with all the trimmings. And, dare I say it, a delightful way to end a full festive feast at home. Personally, I can’t think of anything more enjoyable, particularly if said spirit hails from Trentino.
Villa De Varda is a boutique family winery that has produced small-batch grappa since it was founded in the early 1800s by great-great-grandfather Romedio Dolzan whose vines grace the foothills of the mighty Dolomites at Mezzolombardo.
With the festive season fast approaching here are two tasty tipples to help make your season of goodwill very merry indeed.
Grappa Pinot Nero Riserva Invecchiata
Using only premium pomace skins from its own Pinot Niro vines, this is a delicious grappa that has spent three years ageing in oak, acacia and cherry wood barrels to finish up as an amber-hued bottle of beauty. I can say from experience that this grappa is akin to some of the smoothest whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of owning.
This may well be considered heresy by certain grappa aficionados but trust me, as a self-confessed lover of single malt whisky, I consider it the ultimate compliment. It’s a truly delightful grappa with subtle notes of red grapefruit, espresso and black pepper light years away from some of the lightning in a glass I’ve had the misfortune to knock back on many a wild winter night in Italy. Surely a testament to the high quality of the Villa de Varda Pinot grapes.
Available in the UK from Independent Wine: Grappa Pinot Nero Riserva Invecchiata £34.95 including free delivery to anywhere on the UK mainland and even free gift-wrapping if required.
Awards: Falstaff Trophy 2019 – 94 points | ANAG 2020 – Premio Alambicco d’Oro (3rd place)
Amaretto Liqueur made from real Trentino almonds
While grappa maybe Villa de Varda’s jewel in the crown, this boutique winery has still found the time and energy to produce this surprise package made entirely from natural almond skins. Something of a rarity in mass-produced amaretto where peach or apricot kernels are often added together with chemical flavourings.
Almond harvesting in the forest areas around Trentino is officially limited to protect the woodland natural ecology and the quantities pickers can gather are incredibly small. An equally small picking team from Villa de Varda hand-harvests just enough nuts to make very limited batches of its amaretto liqueur which, naturally makes drinking it all the more enjoyable. Does a passionate back story make a drink more enjoyable? I believe it does. To realise you’re sipping a drink made from foraged Alpine almonds, hand-peeled and left to mature for three months in grain spirit to release all that natural almond flavour, adds a whole other dimension to the experience.
And an experience it certainly is. A beautiful golden hue and a strong fragrant almond hit behind the sweetness but to a connoisseur’s palate, hints of candied orange peel and biscotti too. For the romantic in me, I just get gorgeous creamy almonds, sweetness, mountain herbs and an appreciation of all that effort to put it in my bottle.
This wonderful amaretto certainly deserves to be brought out at some point to partner your festive feast dessert.
Available in the UK from Independent Wine: Villa de Varda, Amaretto Liqueur made from Real Almonds £26.95 including free delivery to anywhere on the UK mainland and even free gift-wrapping if required.
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