The first citation of the brandy in Piedmont dates back to 1443 and, even if it sounds amazing, it was discovered in a customs document.
At first it wasn’t called grappa, because this term has been introduced in Italy only at the end of the last century; in Piedmont, instead, this term has been preced by the more dialectic term “branda”, but surely the citation allows to place the “region” among the most ancient and noble for the production of our national brandy.
The history of the Grappa Piemonte developed nearly at the same time of the Savoy’s vicissitudes; in fact it contributed to the support of the war expenses and of the expansion designs through the fiscal imposition, it bore the strictness of the laws and, unfortunately, it didn’t benefit from the successes of the Piedmontese government.
Contrarily to what everybody thought the grappa in Piedmont wasn’t exclusively for the farmers The grappa was produced by the skin of the grapes picked from the noble Piedmontese vines and distilled straightaway in the cellars thanks to the still, an instrument used by either the nobility and the poor people. All this could be testified not only by the correspondence between the Count of Cavour and his farmer, but even by some laws which deserved particular privileges to the aristocrats from Alessandria. And the Savoy family looked after the brandy personally: in 1583 Carlo Alberto I gave to a certain Orazio Senese the privilege of using a particular way “for distilling all sorts of spirits ” and in 1627 he prohibited the production of the brandy without the written permit of the “Protomedico” (it was so called the Ministry of Health).
The levying was severe too: the delation was protected and the accusers could use every kind of weapons. But the producers from Piedmont didn’t lose heart and, even if sometimes they had to live as clandestines, they made technological innovations of great importance.
We must. remember the instrument of the Stemmer brothers from Turin, which allowed the continuous distillation of the wine a century before it was discovered the “disalcolatore”. Not of inferior interest was the still Rocco (about 1870), which it worked on steam and it allowed an agile extraction of the cream of tartar, and the arrival to the “Stazione Sperimentale di Asti” of the Camboni (1900-1905) and consequently of new theories about a kind of distillation called “a vinacce emerse”.
We are not sure that the still in bain marie of Piedmontese style was originated from the above-mentioned stills, but. Up till now it is one of the best. for treating in a delicate way humid ,but not dripping, dregs of pressed grapes.