When the Levi breaks

[label]Romano Levi Grappa (Piedmont) – For every cherished experience, there is a transformative moment. Sometimes, it’s sought…but other times, it strikes as unexpectedly as lightning from a clear blue sky. This is an example of the latter.

Until this experience, I can say that I’ve found grappa interesting. Interesting…but not good. It has been something to be explored for its variety and source-specificity, for its place in an Italian life, and for its convivial role. But this grappa changes everything. I am enraptured. Instantly, and without reserve. This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

My notes, as scribbled into my journal at the moment of encounter, initially identify what I’m drinking as “incomprehensible label, producer in Nieve.” It’s only after I smell, and taste, that I apply myself to the work of deciphering the hand-drawn labels for which this producer is famous. I have never tasted a grappa like this, either in form or in quality. It is so superior to anything I’ve previously encountered that it might as well be its own category. Supple yet full-flavored, drawing both fruit and mineral into a distillation of floral complexity, then lingering in a gentle decrescendo that slowly exposes both that minerality and the memory of a faded bouquet of the palest white roses. This is the best. The absolute best. I’m floored. Stunned. Moved. So much of all three that the returning sommelier, noticing my bliss and knowing its source, pours a generous second helping in my glass. (10/07)


  • Maurizio Fava

    March 12, 2010

    today, Lidia Levi's dead.
    She was Romano's sister, they lived all life together after their mother had been killed by a RAF attack out of Neive church, 2 days before 2nd world war definitive end.
    Lidia's death is the end of Grappa Levi story… none is now staying in that old humble distillery house in Neive.

  • thor iverson

    March 16, 2010

    Oh, such a shame. Thank you for the news, Maurizio, though it's terrible to hear it.


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