Monday, August 22, 2016

Italian Brandy: Villa Zarri 1991

K&L snagged a 24 year old, single barrel cask strength brandy from Villa Zarri in Northern Italy just outside of Bologna. This brandy is made in a style similar to Cognac - pot distilled, made from Ugni Blanc grapes and aged in French oak, and unlike many Cognacs, it has no additives.

Villa Zarri 1991, 24 yo, 59.7% abv ($100)

The nose has deep, earthy notes, like slightly wet dirt on a misty morning. The palate is bold and powerful.There's a touch of sweetness at the opening, followed by huge spice notes and an earthy finish that turns bitter and then strongly bitter.

It's really good, densely flavored stuff, but what you really need to do is add water. Just a few drops of water brings out big, sweet, fruit notes on the nose along with mulling spices. The palate opens with sweet fruit and the develops spice, while keeping those sweet notes in the background. The finish is spicy, earthy with nice fruit notes on the nose, though it retains the strongly bitter long finish.

This has tons going on and it balances it all very well.  Cognac fans (who drink the additive free stuff, not the mass market caramel/sugar bombs) will love this stuff.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to see a brandy this old at this strength. I've not had great luck with adding water to brandies, and generally drink them at full-proof, whatever that may be. I'm intrigued by this one.

How does it compare to the similarly aged/priced Armagnac selections you've reviewed (such as Pellehaut)? Your comparison to Cognac leads me to believe this has more finesse and fruit-forward notes, rather than deep, funky attitude.

sku said...

Armagnac has a spicier profile. I wouldn't say this has more finesse, but it's more in line with great Cognac (and it is essentially a Cognac produced in Italy) - fruity, though not very sweet, and earthy.

Florin said...

The nose is fantastic, and with all the wet leaves/forest floor notes it does remind me of an Armagnac. But then the strong fresh, grapey aromas do bring it back into the Cognac territory. Unfortunately the palate & finish are too bitter for my taste. The wood is strong with this one! Very elegant, very "European", the perfect end - or interlude - to a 8-course meal in Italy or France. Many thanks to whoever gave me the sample!