Free Run Cellars Grappa

Maker: Round Barn, Baroda, Michigan, USA20170504_170405

Grapes: Gewürztraminer, Muscat.

Style: Pomace brandy.

ABV: 40%

Note: I received a 25% media discount on purchases and a free lunch when I purchased this brandy.

Appearance: Clear.

Nose: Alcohol, lavender, antique rose, boxwood, woodruff, mango, pink peppercorns.

Palate: Sweet. Candied orange peel, alcohol.

Finish: Pungent and perfumed. Clears out sinuses and lingers.

Parting words: Free Run is a line of estate spirits and wines from Round Barn in southwestern Michigan. My wife and I (and our baby!) visited there last summer. An account of that, with details on Free Run is here. I reviewed Black Star Farms’ white grappa in 2013 and I loved it. This one is more rose pedals and musk than BSF’s fruity grappa. Some fruit, other than the faint mango note, would have been welcome for balance but this is good all the same. I forgot to write the price down but Free Run brandies are produced in limited runs and are priced accordingly (for a 375 ml bottle). Free Run Cellars Grappa Pomace Brandy is recommended.

Spirit of the Vineyard Michigan White Grappa

Maker: Black Star Farms, Traverse City, Michigan, USAIMG_20130731_114726

ABV: 40%

Note: Made using white wine leftovers (skins, pulp, seeds, stems).

Appearance: Clear with big thick legs.

Nose: Fruity and pungent, but not unpleasant. Like a fruity perfume. Ripe pear, table grapes, a hint of fresh cut cedar and lemon grass.

On the palate: Mild but full bodied. Sweet and mildly grapey.

Finish: delicately fruity and woody with more of that cut cedar aroma rolling around the mouth.

Parting words: For those who may not know, grappa is a brandy distilled from a fermentation of the left over byproducts of the wine making process collectively called pomace or marc. Grappa is the Italian word for such a beverage. Other versions of the same thing include marc (French), orujo (Spanish) and tescovină  (Romanian). The name grappa is restricted by the European Union to beverages of this type made in Italy, but has no such protection here in the U.S., hence this American grappa.

I haven’t had much grappa (or marc or the like) so the mental sample to which I am comparing this spirit is small. That said, this is very, very good. It’s not nearly as rough and raw tasting as the other grappas I have tasted and has a very pleasant nose that really shines in a Glencairn or Riedel Single Malt glass (I don’t own a grappa glass). It’s delicious chilled or at room temperature before or after a meal or on a hot afternoon.

Black Star Farms makes a wide variety of eaux-de-vie and brandies including a “red grappa” which is not actually red but made from red wine leftovers. It is also quite good, but the white has a very appealing perfumed nose, no doubt a reflection of the Riesling, Pinot Gris and other aromatic white wine grape varieties that lent their unused bits to the this spirit.

Spirit of the Vineyard Michigan White Grappa is highly recommended.

For further reading: https://sipologyblog.com/2011/07/08/a-visit-to-black-star-farms/

A Visit to Black Star Farms

I’m feeling like crap  today but I’m going to get this written up, dammit.

On Saturday, Jun 19, 2011 Frind of the Blog Amy and I and our spouses and my baby visited Black Star Farms Old Mission tasting room in Traverse City, Michigan. Black Star Farms is one of the best (if not the best) wineries in Michigan. They are well known for their exceptional late-harvest Rieslings, sur lie Chards and many other excellent wines and even cider. Their website is http://www.blackstarfarms.com/ Look for a review of the 2008 Late Harvest Riesling in the near future!

Anyway we had been there before but, what we were most interested in this time was their spirits program. They produce a number of them.

Red Grape Grappa
White Grape Grappa (I had this and it was excellent)

Spirit of…(eaux de vie)
Cherry
Plum (also very good)
Pear (also a version with the pear inside the bottle)
Raspberry

Apple Brandies
Spirit of Apple (NAS but about 12 mos. old)
10 y/o Apple Brandy (spectacular)

For the sake of full discosure, I had been communicating with their Twitterer Coryn and she waived the tasting fees for my party and me, a $25 value.

She also showed Amy and I around behind the scenes. Here are some photos Amy took:

Their press

Their Still

According to Coryn:

The still is run 3-4 times a week

Quote:
–          The clear fruit eau de vie brandies come off the still at approx. 75-80% (150-160 proof). They rest in the glass carboys and are then blended in the stainless steel tanks where they sit for approx. a month. They cut the brandy to be 40% (80 proof) and then bottle it.
–          The apple brandy comes off the still at 75% (150 proof) and goes into the barrel at 65% (130 proof) where it ages for approx 12 months. When it is bottled it is cut down to 40% (80 proof).

The carboys

Their Barrels with aging Apple Brandy

Again, from Coryn:

Quote:
The barrels are a combination of French and American Oak. They were new when we purchased them and they are used for one rotation of aging for the apple brandy and then they get used to age the Sirius Maple Dessert wine. They are relatively low toasted oak barrels – this style was chosen b/c the idea is to accentuate the fruit of the apple.

Finally, their bottler:

The apple brandy is a very different beast from Laird’s which has so many fans among my fellow bourbon-fanciers. It is a much more delicate spirit than that or even Tom’s Foolery. Spirit of Apple was reviewed few months ago on this blog. When I first opened it I got a weird celery aroma in the nose, but that has calmed down now.

The 10 y/o is just great, great stuff. So complex and elegant, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. You all know what a cheap bastard I am, but I have not regreted paying $75 for it yet. A review of that will be forthcoming, hopefully a video review.

Anyway, it’s definately worth the trip if you ever make it “Up North” to Traverse City!