February sees us travel to the Piedmont region of north-west Italy, home of this fantastic grappa from Cocchi (pronounced “cocky”). This white, unaged beverage is produced from 100 percent locally grown barbera grapes.
The Cocchi brand has existed since 1891 when a pastry chef called Giulio Cocchi started producing sparkling and aromatized wines in the town of Asti. The legend goes that he only arrived in Asti after accidentally getting off the train from Florence to Turin one stop early. He stayed after falling in love with, and eventually marrying, the daughter of a local barkeeper. The establishment, now known as Bar Cocchi, can still be found in Piazza Alfieri in the centre of Asti.
Grappa shares some DNA with brandy but, like much of the best Italian cooking, grappa is a product of frugality. It’s base material is the detritus remaining after grapes have been pressed to produce wine. This leftover skin, pulp, seeds and stems is collectively known as pomace.
In the UK grappa can have an unfair reputation as rough-edged firewater. We’ve probably all been handed a complimentary glass of cheap spirit following a meal in the sort of Italian restaurant that hasn’t changed since 1971. We hope this premium Cocchi grappa goes some way to improving that perception. Salute!