Category Archives: Digestivi

Gölles Marille Apricot Brandy, Riegersburg


Who: Schnapsbrennerei Alois Gölles

Where: Styria, Riegersburg (Austria)

Fully ripe apricots are hand-picked, cleaned, stoned, then mashed and fermented at a controlled temperature. Stones are added to the mash during fermentation to increase the particularity in its taste. The mash is then transferred to copper kettles and distilled in a traditional manner, two times over. The second distillation is what distinguishes it from others, as it enhances the “tertiary” flavors and subdues the heat from the high level of alcohol.

I first tried this when I was in Vienna, and it peaked my interest in brandy. I didn’t really care for it before, but thought I should try something typical of Austria while in town and it was the best decision I made. It turns out Austria does apricots very well (preserves, candies, brandy) and this was no exception. Incredibly balanced, delicate, aromatic and ripe, it’s perfect as a digestif or cold comfort during the long winter.



Chateau d’Arlay Vin Jaune, Vin de Liqueur Macvin, et Vin de Paille 2002


An incredible way to taste the Jura, aged white wines (that border on liqueurs), and most importantly the sensibility of Alain de Laguiche. The Chateau has been classified as an historic monument that carries a family tradition of wine making for centuries, honoring and elevating the taste of terroir into an almost ethereal experience. Their tradition is marked by the use of aging on subterranean lees, and southern sun exposure to the vines. Each wine is a world unto itself, with a quality that can seemingly only be described as uniquely personal. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to taste these wines side by side at Bar Vivant, in a city I didn’t know, while reading “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brian. It was a rare evening, all around.

From left to right, Vin Jaune to Vin de Paille, the progression went from a heavy mineral, slightly nutty, manzanilla-like character to deep, brooding maple, smoked cherry and straw butter. Concentrated, intense, powerful, but all totally different!

le Vin Jaune: 100% Savagnin. Traditional methods apply, where wine undergoes 2nd fermentation allowing yeasts to form a protective layer at the top of the barrel. Over a course of 6 1/2 years, this develops into the bouquet that is so characteristic of Vin Jaune (and quite similar to that of some sherries).

le Vin de Liqueur Macvin: Chardonnay (50%) et Savagnin (50%). Aged for 7 years in brandy casks followed by 3 years in old oak barrels.

le Vin de Paille:  Chardonnay (30%), Poulsard (20%), Trousseau (20%) et Savagnin (30%). Vine clusters are hand picked and placed on straw mats for 3-4 months. The drying process naturally concentrates the fruit, elevates the sugar level and reduces acidity levels. After a light pressing, the liquid is put into small barrels and aged for 3-4 years, with no sugar added.

Domaine de Montbourgeau, Vin de Paille 2009


Mind blowing. Magical. What dreams are made of. Everything and nothing like it. Chamomile, straw, cedar, smoke, almond, maple, clay, sea shells, eau de groseille rouge?….I can’t even.

What makes this magic? From the producer:

“Montbourgeau produces only a tiny amount of a vin de paille.  This ‘paille’ is composed of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Savagnin and 20% Poulsard.  The grapes are left to raisin in the open air until the January following harvest, effectuating a high degree of concentration.  In effect, it takes 100 kilograms of grapes to produce a mere 10 liters of Vin de Paille at Montbourgeau.  A total of five hectoliters are produced in the years that Montbourgeau makes a Vin de Paille”.

Which is not every year… obviously this has very limited availability. Bottled exclusively in 375ml size.


Liqueur di Amarena, Giovi

Super special, rare grappa infused with Amarena cherries (not to be confused with Amarone, the dry italian red wine from Valpolicella, mainly made up of Corvina & Rondinella grapes). It has a delicate sweetness that curbs the intensity of the grappa, also seamingly aged to some capacity, although not sure if this was done before or after the addition of the cherries. The producer, Giovi, may or may not even make this stuff for public consumption anymore.

Amaro dell’Erborista, Distilleria Varnelli


This is one of the rarest amaros I’ve tasted. It’s completely raw- unsweetened besides a minor addition of honey, and prepared over a wood fire in the region of Marche. As with most amaro, the specific combination and ratio of herbs, roots and bark is kept quite secret, but this one’s character is true to its origin. No masks. This is straight-up medicinal.