07 May Mazzetti D’Altavilla Grappa Distillery
On the top of the hill of Altavilla Monferrato, since 1846 is produced grappa, the typical Italian spirit made with Vinacce, that is what remains of the grapes after they are smashed to make wine. This long tradition that involves until today 7 generations of the Mazzetti family, is located in a special place: in fact, the estate was originally built to become a monastery in the beginning of XIX century but was then changed into a distillery. From the past times still remains the Round Chapel in the garden, from 1808 and recently renovated. During the works was found, under the chapel, an evocative big stone cross, now visible from a hole in the floor.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to meet anyone from Mazzetti’s family, and we were pleasantly guided by Claudio, the press office manager. He explained to us how the company is sensible to environmental problems and eco-sustainability: for example, all the energy they need is produced with solar power. They also care about the human and cultural side: twice a year they organise a permanent art exhibition. Since last May there are Maurizio Rampoldi’s artworks, with the theme “The women and the grappa“.
We are invited to take part in a touristic tour of the place organised for a group coming from Genova and we could participate on the visit.
The tour consisted of four stages:
- The pot stills: where the vinacce are pressed and the fermented liquid is distillate to get the first grappa, with 80% of alcohol. Is cooled then down at -20 C in order to remove any impurity still left. In this suggestive place, they make once a year a theatre show.
- The barrels for barrique: Here the grappa sleeps in small (100 litres capacity) durmast barrels for ageing, average 12-18 months.
- The still barrels: Here repose for a short time the grappa known as “young”, white and not aged in wood.
- The cellar: The final part, where is possible now to taste the product. A striking local created in the basement where hundreds of bottles with different shapes and colours, decanters, ampules, glasses, art and antique objects, reflects the cellar’s light creating a unique atmosphere that inspires the curiosity to observe any kind of artfully placed products and details.
From the most traditional young grappa, with the sharp and firm taste, preferred from connoisseurs to the barriqued one, yellow and softer, more aromatic: a grappa produced from 17 differents grape varieties, all and only from Piedmont.
There are also flavoured grappas, as lemon, liquorice, mint, coffee, lighter in terms of alcohol degrees and perfect for summer times; distillates from wines and vines and the brandy: meditative spirit 27 years old; fruits and aromatic sugar cubes under strong spirit; balsamic vinegar; sauces; chocolates … basically, all you can want and imagine!
We could have a small taste of Barbera and Moscato’s grappas, young and old, to feel the differences between the different age. Everyone can visit the cellar, every day, and there is special guided visit for groups, also in English. Don’t forget to take the free booklet for cooking special recipes with the grappa even as an ingredient.
Mazzetti d’Altavilla Distillery
Written by Franco Agnolotto | Photography by Maria Caoda