Many modern and trendy gourmet dishes have traditional origins: Ratatouille, Pot-au-Feu, Bouillabaisse, Cioppino, Paella, Risotto to name a few started as humble peasant meals. Whatever was available to working folk became fair game. Nothing was discarded and everything was used to create delicious, nourishing meals. Stories of Grappa in Italy, Marc in France, Orujo in Spain, Aguardente in Portugal and Spain share the same traditional origin of reclamation: all of them were the product of what was left from pressing grapes. The Pomace that remained after pressing contained residual alcohol and was then distilled into rough spirit. As the simple fare of the peasant cuisine has evolved into layered and complex gourmet dishes, so too these spirits have evolved into a strong complex and full of character, drink of choice.
About the Distillers
Thomas and Anatoly come from two quite different geographical locations: Portugal’s Azores islands and St. Petersburg, Russia. Thomas is a successful real estate developer and Anatoly is classically trained musician, graduate of Juilliard school. For centuries Thomas’ family was making and consuming aguardent and Anatoly’s family, vodka. These home brews were like so many families efforts, a straightforward endeavor and all for personal consumption. Fast forward to 2011: the year Thomas and Anatoly met. They soon became friends and business partners. Both enjoyed parties with their families, sharing good wine and food. Both had passion for everything grape: wines, brandies, eau de vie and grappa. Both have taken trips to Europe to observe old world ways of making spirits. After years of trial and error, using an old Portuguese alembic still, they felt ready and confident to bring their stuning grappa product to the market.
Mulher Velha Aguardente has been created using an old world tradition, which has been carried from the founder’s childhood home in the Azores Islands of Portugal. At Slo De Vie Distillery, we combine two traditional styles of this spirit: Vinica, which is distilled from young fresh wine, and Bagaceira, which is distilled from pomace (pressed grape skins). We use pomace from choice vineyards in Edna Valley on California’s Central Coast. It is processed immediately after the pressing to capture delicate flavors. Only destemmed grapes make it into our traditional Copper Pot still, thus avoiding any hint of wood alcohol. Both Vinica and Bagaco are blended together, then aged in fine oak barrels to round up the flavor in order to satisfy the most discerning Aguardente connoisseurs.
Two great spirits have consistently attracted us: the best Armagnacs of France and the finer Grappas of Italy. We seek to embrace and combine traditional techniques of Italian and French distillers while employing our own particular methods. We utilize the entire grape, skins and all, except stems. Fresh from press pomace from choice local vineyards is brought to our two copper pot stills and is immediately distilled. Wine is distilled either separately or together with pomace. Resulting alcohol is then pumped into fine oak barrels where it rests for no more than several months, thus preserving the character of grappa’s freshness while evolving into luxurious pale golden color spirit. Depending on grapes, we use either single or double run. Very strict cuts of heads and tails result in weighty and profound heart, unfortunately in small supply. No additives, sugar, coloring agents are added. Just 100% grape! Each batch will slightly vary from year to year depending on the types of grapes used in production, as well as the weather conditions of that year.