Though I procured and opened this one before the various Garda Grappas that you read about the other week, my impressions of the Paganini were influenced by the delights of that region, so it made sense to blog about those first. Here then, is what I think now:
Purchased for under 5 euros in a Berlin supermarket, this 40% white grappa (of undisclosed geographical origin) is presented in an intriguing and impressive 50cl bulb-shaped bottle with a long neck and rubbery stopper – which would count for something, but that’s pretty standard with grappa; the only grappa I’ve come across so far that has had a screwcap was the Julia Superiore.
I decided to try the hand rub test on this one, that had been suggested to me by our guide at the SanLeonardo estate. He said it was a good way to evaluate the quality of grappa – if you rub it on your hands and smell only alcohol, it’s poor. If you can smell the marc, then you have something good. Next, slap yourself for wasting it on your hands instead of drinking it (another good way of evaluating quality). Anyway, the hand rub test revealed just alcohol – so it seemed likely to remain as a sub-standard last resort until all my good grappas had gone.
Returning to more traditional tasting methods, I found on the nose that the Paganini was rough and minty. On the palate I thought it was burny and dry, evoking liquorice and a hint of rubber.
In a surprise twist though, it performed particularly well when I had a cold, and was drinking it because I didn’t want to waste anything good. There was lots of initial flavour on this occasion that made me open to a re-evaluation, though ultimately I have to stand by my original impressions.
The aromas of the fermenting vats that have proved so prevalent in the products reviewed in last week’s post are notable here by an almost complete absence. If there is anything of that ilk, it is the barest trace elements only. It makes you wonder what could have been done differently to produce this gulf in quality; poor grapes? the marc not fresh enough? something on the distilling end? I probably don’t know enough at this stage, but the overall effect is not unlike that of drinking an inexpensive (but inoffensive) vodka.
At 5 euros for 50cl then, you have to say it’s excellent value, but at £14.50 in the UK, it’s a different story. This isn’t one to give your friends as an introduction to the delights of grappa. They are liable to be left with an impression of weird vodka. So just keep this one for when money’s tight and you’re not heading to Italy any time soon. Even then, you should probably wait till money’s a bit less tight and get something else. And then just head to Italy anyway.
Apologies for the lateness of this post. We've been having a new kitchen installed, and a lot of the paraphernalia was blocking access to the computer, so I'm afraid it's just had to wait. We're about done now though, and on the verge of installing the bar optics that I'm very excited about. Posting should be more regular from now on.