As the Maxentia began to dwindle and my Amazon Prime trial approached expiration, I decided to think about getting some fresh white grappa in and came across three half-price products from Bepi Tosolini, a producer from the Udine region, north east of Venice. £13 they were for 50cl, boasting 40 ABVs.
I forget what my reasoning was at the time, but I went for the Grappa di Chardonnay, only to toss and turn all night (not really) and go back the next day to get the Grappa di Moscato too. They were half price, and that meant they cost about the same as a crap bottle of vodka. I’d have been mad not to get more than one. But I wasn’t mad enough to get all three. Anyway, this would be the ideal time to see how the same product, based on different grape varieties, could vary.
They come unboxed in identical slender bottles with long necks and simple labels. The moscato has a blue label and the chardonnay – what would you call that? – greenish?
On to the tasting. In the interest of direct comparability I opened both at the same time and alternated a couple of sniffs/sips of each, comparing also with the Maxentia.
The Moscato has a sharp nose and is fully flavoured with floral, Turkish delight tones. In comparison with my incumbent white grappa, Maxentia, the Maxentia is much fresher, deeper and richer nose-wise. In terms of taste, the Maxentia is less immediate, but subtler and more complex. The fumes are much better – evoking the fermenting vats, and therefore a quality that the Moscato lacks.
In comparison to the Moscato, the Chardonnay is musky, though there is a touch of marzipan on the nose and the finish is overly bitter.
I then went on to compare the Chardonnay to the Paganini, and have been surprised to find the Paganini performing much better than previously. Bepi Tosolini’s product has a much better nose – far more representative of the smell of marc – but Paganini has a fuller flavour that I hadn’t noticed before.
Overall then, I have to say I’m disappointed with these two grappas. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected much for the price. I was hoping for two bottles that would entice me back time and again, but these just aren’t refined enough, and there’s no way I’d be using them to introduce novices to the world of grappa. They would just give an impression of weird vodka. In all fairness, they are a little bit better than that… but not much.
My preference was for the moscato, but I tended to alternate them from one day to the next, finally putting the Chardonnay into my new bar optics because I thought grappa would be a ridiculously cool thing to have in there. I don’t know if direct sunlight had a positive effect, but as summer approached, the sun would beam through our kitchen doors and on to the optics for a while, and this coincided with my enjoying the Chardonnay very much as the bottle came to its end.
Sadly though, I can’t recommend these two products, and even more sadly, this will be the last you’ll be hearing from me about grappa for a while. Nevertheless, we are returning to Italy at the end of next month, and a lot of grappa will be bought and consumed. It’ll just be a few months before my writing catches up with it. Keep coming back though. There are plenty of booze related adventures still to come.