I know, I know, it’s not really wine – but it is made in Tuscany and it is made from grapes. So….
At first glance, Aqua Vitae looks like grappa. In fact, I didn’t really know what Aqua Vitae was, or how it differed from Grappa until I tried this and did some reading.
Grappa is brandy. It is distilled from the remaining must of grape production. Once the wine is pressed and the juice is run off to make wine, the remaining must is fermented a second time and the result is grappa. So the “base” of any grappa is the remaining pulp, seeds, skins, stems, etc… that can be leftover after wine production.
Aqua Vitae, or “Life Water” gets its name from ancient times where it was used for medicinal reasons. It was thought to cure ailments, and to provide natural remedy for allergies and colds. Aqua Vitae is kind of like “grappa on training wheels” in the sense that while it is made in the same manner described above, it also contains a percentage of pure grape juice, so it’s not 100% must derived. The Castello Banfi Aqua Vitae is distilled from golden Moscadello grapes, and it’s the Moscadello juice that is added to the final blend.
Tasting Note: It is difficult to describe a distillate in any precise manner. This is clearly a medicinal digestivo. It aids digestion, prepares one for slumber, and settles the system after a hearty meal with fine wine. The aroma is alcohol based, medicinal with a faint hint of grapiness. On the palate, this is smooth. There is no trace of the alcohol. The inclusion of the pure juice is noticeable vis a vis grappa, but for those without the experience, I doubt this would be noteworthy.
As an occasional grappa drinker, I enjoyed it. It was lighter on the palate and more fragrant. As with grappa, it’s nice to keep a bottle in the freezer for when the mood strikes. Cost is about $35.
|Castello Banfi Aqua Vitae: Note the window on the bottle that displays the Castello on the obverse side. Very cool design, albeit obscured a bit from the frost of the freezer.