Gaja Grappa di Nebbiolo Sperss is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes sourced Gaja’s Sperss vineyard. The 12 hectare Sperss vineyard, which is located in the Serralunga commune of Barolo, was acquired by the family in 1988 and where the grapes for their most famous Barolo wine are grown.
Gaja is quite simply one of the most famous Italian wine producers. The business was founded in 1859 in Langhe, Piedmont by Giovanni Gaja and it is his great grandson, Angelo Gaja, who currently runs the company. They are most famous for classic Piedmont wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Indeed, Angelo has often been referred to as the “King of Barbaresco” and has been responsible for developing techniques that have revolutionised winemaking in Italy. Not many people know Gaja also make grappa.
Grappa is a pomace brandy. Pomace, which in France and England is known as Marc, is the leftover skins, pulps, seeds and stems from the the wine-making process. Almost all wine-making countries have an equivalent type of spirit (Pisco in Peru and Chile for example). Grappa often bottled un-aged but it is also sometimes aged in barrel and then develops more brandy-like character. Gaja make grappa from their three estates: Gaja, Ca’Marcanda and Pieve Santa Restituta. The grappas are produced at the Barbaresco Cooperative Distillery founded in 1980.
After the various wines have been vinified, the pomace is fermented and the distillation period begins around mid-September and ends in November. This depends on the timings of the various parcels of pomace arriving at the distillery. Distillation takes place using a copper alembic still under a vacuum. This means that the distillation process can take place at a much more gentle and lower temperature (less than 70c) than normal which helps to preserve more delicate flavours and aromas. The spirit comes off the still at around 70 to 75% ABV and it is then diluted with distilled water to the bottling ABV, in this case 42%.
Gaja Grappa di Nebbiolo Sperss, like their Grappa di Magari from Tuscany, is barrel aged. The vineyard names, “Sperss” means “Nostalgia”.