Soft, fresh, pure, juicy, carefully selected pomace with all its stalks removed, taken to the distillery immediately after wine making. This is the first crucial stage in obtaining top quality Grappa.
Grape Distillate ÙE®
High quality, very fresh grapes, harvested when perfectly ripe and, in the case of the more aromatic varieties, when a high content of terpenic substances has been achieved, fundamental to obtaining a rich bouquet in the final distillate.
Fresh fruit, very characteristic, harvested when perfectly ripe in dedicated areas (like Val Venosta for Williams pears and the apricots of Silandro, or the Valle dei Mocheni for brushwood raspberries) to preserve the fragrance and taste of the fruit of origin in the distillate.
Selected honey, coming from suitable areas of Italy and from ecologically pure environments.
The Nonino family personally takes care of the purchase of the primary product and follows the various phases of distillation to guarantee the maximum quality of the distillate.
After reaching the Nonino distillery, the pomace is immediately de-stalked and it is then put into stainless steel tanks ready for the fermentation process which is carried out in a temperature controlled and anaerobic environment. The pH levels are carefully monitored.
The fruit arrives at the distillery and, after strict selection and after removing leaves and stalks, it is rinsed in running water and put into stainless steel vats for the fermentation at controlled temperature vacuum sealed. The pH levels are carefully monitored as is the use of yeasts and selected enzymes.
The fruit with stone, like apricots, cherries and plums, is fermented and then distilled only in the presence of a right percentage of stones, in order to prevent them from outdoing the delicacy, the specific taste and the fragrance of the fruit chosen.
Honey is one of the most difficult primary products to ferment and is particularly affected by the environment of origin. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at controlled temperature.
“From fresh pomace”
In the Nonino Method the pomace is taken to the Distillery within few hours after grape pressing. @ Years of experience have demonstrated that to keep quality pomace, integral under the organic profile, it is necessary to put it into inox tanks immediately after grape pressing, protected from air and light, in order to preserve the fragrances avoiding degenerative fermentations that compromise the entire production.
This is the reason why the Nonino, at the beginning of the grape pressing phase, delivers food safe plastic cases directly to the suppliers and in few hours takes care of the withdrawal with its own means.
This process is necessary to guarantee an absolutely pure fermentation – the transformation of sugar into alcohol – of the pomace and grapes, keeping them completely healthy and fresh and preserving their organoleptic characteristics.
The Art of Distillation
Distillation is the process that allows the extraction from and improvement of pomace, grapes and fruit.
The distillation of fresh primary products is necessary to obtain pure and elegant distillates with all the scents and tastes of the original vine variety and to prevent the formation of methyl alcohol and avoid the demethylization treatment.
Those distilleries which, unlike the Noninos, choose to distil the pomace after a lengthy sealed fermentation, will have to work with a primary product that has undergone degenerative fermentations characterized by bad odours and flavours, with a high concentration of methyl alcohol and will be compelled to use the demethylization column.
100% Distilled with Artisanal Method
The “Distillation with Artisanal Method” consists in the “discontinuous” feeding of the steam still that is filled and emptied at each batch, that’s to say any time a part of the pomace, grapes or fruit, is distilled. The operations of filling and emptying the copper boiler are manual.
The Distillation with Artisanal Method needs the presence of the master distiller who controls the operations, which allows him a constant relation with the matter.
The master distiller controls the quality of the primary product batch by batch, deciding the times and methods related to the distillation and how to carry out, at the right moment, the head and tail cutting, selecting the purest part of the Distillate: the heart.
The Nonino Distilleries
The Nonino owns 5 Artisanal Distilleries, each with 12 copper batch steam stills, the result of innovation and the incessant researches of Benito Nonino.
These stills, in action 24 hours a day, allow the Noninos to distill healthy, perfect pomace, grapes or fruit immediately after fermentation, at the same time as the harvest.
Drop by drop
The sensorial involvement of the master distiller, together with his knowledge, experience and skill, are extremely precious elements that make the difference to obtain a unique and unrepeatable distillate. A knowledge that, in the Nonino family, is handed down from father to daughter.
By extracting drop by drop the organoleptic characteristics of the pomace, the grapes and the fruit used, each heating or distillation becomes an exceptional “unique event”.
The distillation equipment based on continuous industrial equipment is completely automatic, calibrated in advance and involves the constant feeding of raw material through the distillation machinery, without the distiller’s possibility to control it and intervene in the course of distillation.
The distillate obtained this way will be neutral, standardized and lacking in character.
The industrial continuous distillation plant, besides, always requires the treatment of the de-methyilization column which “radically changes the organoleptic characteristics of Grappa because together with methyl, a great number of esters, acetals and other micro-compounds which pleasantly characterize Grappa itself are removed” (De Rosa/Castagner 1994).
This is why the Noninos have chosen to distill the pomace immediately, despite incurring in higher production costs,so that they may ultimately obtain Grappa of supreme quality and purity.
The Nonino production cycle is crucial for obtaining perfect quality Grappa.
Natural ageing under seal
Nonino Aged and Riserva Grappa and ÙE® have always followed a natural ageing in barriques and small casks under seal and permanent surveillance by the Customs and Monopoly Agency in the 5 Grappa Ageing Warehouses of the Nonino Distilleries and are bottled without the addition of color additives.
All incoming and outgoing movements of Grappa and ÙE® Grape Distillate subject to ageing are traceable in the Nonino books certified by the Customs and Monopoly Agency.
Today the 5 Grappa Nonino Ageing Warehouses boast nr. 1960 small casks and barriques made of different kinds of wood, among which Nevers, Limousin, Grésigne and ex-Sherry Oak and in Acacia, wild Cherry and Ash wood.
Nonino Aged Distillates and Riserva
Nonino Grappa and ÙE® marked with the inscription “INVECCHIATA (aged)”, as indicated in the label, have been subjected to a minimum ageing of 12 months in barriques and small casks.
Nonino Grappa and ÙE® marked with the inscription “RISERVA” have been subjected to a minimum ageing of 18 months, and/or up to the maximum number of years indicated in the label, in barriques and small casks always under control by the Customs and Monopoly Agency.
Ageing is carried out through the rest of Grappa or ÙE® in wood, which modifies its sensorial profile both by the action of the oxygen that reaches the distillate through the porosity of the wood itself, and through the impact of the substances that the wood slowly releases to the product, enriching it.
Contrarily to what made by the majority of producers, who use great capacity containers for the ageing as well as caramel as a coloring agent, the Noninos have always chosen the ageing in barriques and small casks because the greater the contact of the distillate with the wood is, the greater the natural enrichment is.
The costs are very high, evene 10 times more than those associated with Grappa and/or fruit distillates produced using industrial continuous distillation equipment.
The high production costs are due to the primary product selection, controlled fermentation, the design, manufacturing and installation of 5 artisanal distilleries, high management costs and considerable personnel costs related to the operation of the stills.
The costs of ageing are higher as well, due to the investment in a great number of barriques and small casks, to the loss of distillate (also called the angels’ share) caused by the natural evaporation of the product because of the porosity of wood. In addition there are all the costs of the staff employed in the handling of the product in the cellar and in the compilation of the compulsory registers.
Technological investments and the related high management costs are necessary to obtain top quality Grappa and ÙE®. Besides it is necessary to add the costs of experimentation and research.
Story of a Passion
More than a century of life dedicated to distillation in the constant pursuit of perfect quality has driven the Nonino family to follow the most difficult, laborious and costly path, and the ultimate reward has been the quality of the distillates they have achieved.
Trasparency in the label
All the Grappas and Distillates that Nonino bottles are distilled by the Noninos in copper batch steam stills at the Nonino Distilleries, in Ronchi di Percoto.
The Nonino label is the identity card of the product which clearly makes clear the production method and the year of ageing of the Distillate.
I should say at once that making money has never been our primary motivation, even in an age when profit appears to be the universal measure of success. Our overriding goal is constant improvement as we strive relentlessly after quality and innovate to make the best Grappa in the world, in full respect of the territory and its culture: a grappa so fragrant with the aromas of its grape that it seduces even the most discriminating consumers.
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