Friday, July 19, 2013

UvaViva Italiana di Poli Immature Grape Brandy

Producer: Poli Distillerie
Name: UvaViva Italiana
Type: Immature Grape Brandy
Mash: Moscato Fior d'Arancio & Malvasia Bianca di Candia grapes
Region: Colli Euganei, Veneto (Moscato) & Rauscedo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Malvasia), Italy
ABV: 40%
Serving 1: In a snifter
Serving 2: On the rocks

I tell myself that it has probably happened to everybody. Maybe I am playing mind tricks on myself to rationalize a silliness of youth; but maybe, on the contrary, this really is a normal growing pain. Perhaps my kind readers can tell me if they identify with this: when I first began drinking spirits, and for as long as I continued not paying attention to what was in my glass, all clear brandies tasted just about the same to me. I mean all of them: kirschwasser, slivovica, grappa, everything. The utter strength and pungency of the alcohol, coupled with an uneducated, oblivious palate, brought the distinctions to nearly zero as far as I was concerned.

It has therefore been especially gratifying, as I started to pay attention to, and learn about, the nice drinks in life over the past couple of years, to discover how complex and fascinating brandies are, and what makes them unique. The UvaViva Italiana by Poli is a great case study in such sophisticated grape spirits. It is made with Moscato Fior d'Arancio and Malvasia Bianca di Candia grapes from the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (two of the Tre Venezie) respectively, and one gets to know the lands there quite intimately, as the terroir of these regions really comes to the forefront. It was a great choice, this blend.

In a snifter, the UvaViva Italiana has light, fruity, and fun aroma. The pungent scents are, interestingly, those generally associated with red wine: plums and red berries. There is also a strong pear presence. On the palate, it goes down easily, nicely. There are some white wine tasting notes here - lychee, almonds, vague citrus, and emphatic pear notes - that meld together seamlessly with the red wine notes, which remain from the aroma. The brandy is thick and viscous, but it turns to vapor quite easily in the mouth. The finish is mild - it could do a bit better in terms of vigor - but comes off a lot like grappa, which is nice, especially with these ingredients.

On the rocks, the UvaViva Italiana has pears all over the place, in all phases of the experience. The aroma is almost exclusively pear, although it is a bit on the light side. The brandy makes for very easy sipping, with pleasantly middling intensity and viscosity, and a certain crispiness to it. It is quite wonderful. The pear continues its hegemony, though it does here deign to admit other notes into the mix: plums on the periphery and an undercurrent of nuts. One cannot taste the citrus, but still knows it is there. The finish, still a bit too light, is mainly pear.

The brandy does not have any floral tasting notes, but in my mind's eye, while sipping it on the rocks, I am transported to a meadow with trees and brush and rolling hills that are just at the point when flowers are budding and the world is a light green. Obviously, then, this is an ideal springtime beverage, although one can hardly go wrong with it in the summertime. I encourage my readers to get Poli's UvaViva Italiana for themselves, and explore the great depths to which a craft-made, sophisticated brandy can take a willing passenger. Enjoy.

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