Unintentionally, the mountain has always been an incredible alchemical laboratory, extraordinarily endowed with a clean nature where herbs, roots, berries, spelled, flowers, fruits and barks grow spontaneously, selected and collected for centuries to make infusions, spirits and liqueurs. The Aosta valley, set in alpine nature, fully represents these characteristics, where small distilleries, wise monks, but also the inhabitants themselves are familiar with the use of alpine botanicals, skilfully working them and transforming them into authentic liqueur specialties.
Among these small distilleries there is also Valdotaine, born as ‘Grapperia’ in 1947 in Verres, in the “lower valley” (this is the name of the part of the Aosta valley that goes from Pont Saint Martin to Monjovet-Saint Vincent) and starts distilling grappa in small copper stills with traditional discontinuous steam distillation. In 1978 the distillery moved its headquarters to Saint Marcel. The new logistics coincides with a strong moment of innovation and business growth where the productions are expanded by refining the distillation techniques and, starting to produce flavored grappas with mountain herbs and fruits (the Papà Marcel grappa) of the mountain tradition and the prestigious single vines Aosta Valley.
A new step forward in this sense also took place with the restructuring of the distillery in 1992, which led to the inclusion of a new generation still, one of the first in the world to vacuum distill in a bain-marie. This allows us to extract all the aromas and flavors contained that are lost in traditional distillation. The strong presence of alpine botanicals in the territory and emerald-colored water that comes from the glaciers behind the distillery, soon led the Valdotaine company to want to bet on the recipe for an amaro, in truth on the reworking of a previous recipe of a bitter with mountain herbs but that did not have its own strong characterization.
The botanicals already used were the classic ones of herbal amari:
Achillea Moscata, Angelica (root and seeds), Roman wormwood, Gentile wormwood, Pontico wormwood, Basil leaves, Holy thistle, Gentian root, Hyssop leaves, Marjoram, Clary sage, Elderflower and Savory.
It was therefore decided to give a greater connotation to the mix by still exploiting the surrounding area and adding a particular species of thyme that studies of the 90s, conducted in collaboration with a well-known Swiss herbal candy company, had defined to have about 10% more essential oils than other known species, it was therefore decided to accentuate the mountain character of the product with a good dose of Common Thyme and to give a note of originality by using the dried and then ground dandelion roots, up to a fine powder that is macerated in water and alcohol, creating an extract with its own well-defined characteristic aroma. The results of the first tests were extremely encouraging, the taste was original, distinctive and pleasant but all these components lacked a binder. Hence the idea of using a raw sugar that had its own taste and not only the sweetening capacity, a “bitter” taste that binds very well, thanks to its slightly “liquorice” characteristics, with the mix of botanicals, completing and giving life to the Amaro Dente di Leone.
Amaro Dente di Leone can be defined as a herbal liqueur and, unlike many bitters, it does not contain cinchona or other similar spices, but above all it does not contain dyes. Its name obviously derives from the use of dandelion or Dandelion in its recipe, a flower considered magical in antiquity ‘generated by the chariot of God while traveling around the world’, the same flower which is often entrusted to dreams of lovers, and which in classical mythology nourished Theseus for thirty days before victoriously facing the Minotaur.
Color: very clear with a beautiful chestnut color with golden reflections.
Smell: delicate, strongly perceptible the herbaceous component
Taste: the bitterness of dandelion and gentian is immediately noticeable on the palate, softened by the aromaticity of thyme and other herbs.
Aftertaste: elderflower and very long finish
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