Often a liquor may identify an entire nation or simply the area where it is produced by embodying a way of drinking and enjoying that special suspension from daily life with a glass in one’s hand. Mexico is tequila, Russia is vodka, Scotland is whisky and France is cognac. How about Puglia?? There’s no doubt that the liquor which best signifies our region is Rosolio, a spirit with a sharp taste, and a symbol of our welcome for centuries.
Who from Puglia does not remember his grandmother or her aunt opening the credenza, taking out a bottle of homemade rosolio, pouring it into those typical little glasses and serving it with some sweets? This liquor is produced in hundreds of variations and it speaks of our nature as well – so versatile, imaginative and decisive.
Rosolio is precious and not by chance is served in small amounts and sipped from small crystal chalices. It is made at home by following family recipes, passed from generation to generation, through artisanal procedures and single acts that make every bottle a unique event.
Beginning in the Middle Ages, the name probably derives from the petals of roses which were used for its preparation. Then it became the typical liquor from the South of Italy, eventually spreading all over the country and reaching France and the noble houses where it was used as digestive. In Puglia, mostly in the inland areas of the Murgia plateau, rosolio acquired more varied nuances of flavor, thanks to the introduction of wild aromatic herbs which grow here in abundance in the hilly climate moderated by the action of the nearby sea.
Right in this area on top of the murgesi hills is Gravina, where one can find a small artisanal laboratory that has been able to give prestige to this noble liquor. Gravina is placed in the heart of a vast plateau characterized by calcareous rocks which emerge, grayed by the millennia. Here more than anywhere else, nature expresses itself in the rich and spontaneous typical Mediterranean bush. In fact, it is here that garrugue grows, along with thistles, euforbia, giant fennel and asphodel. Walking in this immense and uncontaminated land, protected and part of the National park of Alta Murgia, one can sense the intense fragrance of an incredible variety of wild herbs, such as marrubbio, wild fennel, savory, horsemint, and above all thyme (locally called “u sprùd” and which has an intense scent of wild oregano), known as “erba principe” of the Murgia
This is the great collecting basin of the Lafronza family, Michele, the father, and his son Ignazio. They have been able to transform the wild vegetation into a unique rosoli, elsewhere unknown. The ingredients can be counted on the palm of one’s hand: herbs or fruit which are macerated in highest quality alcohol, water and sugar, with no addition of food coloring, artificial flavor or any additives. Herbs and fruits are processed the same day they are picked with artisanal methods, which is why the quality of the final product is unique and unmistakable. Some herbs or fruit are mashed in an antique mortar, later they are left to macerate in pure alcohol in single glass containers. After they have reached the right level of maceration, the alcohol is filtered and the remaing herbs/fruit are further pressed. The “essenza madre” which is left over is mixed along with the natural essence of freshly picked herbs or fruit for the next batch
The masterful process created by the Lafronza family gives the liquors always new and esclusive connotations: those based on herbs are used as digestives while the fruit-based ones are wonderful sipped as a drink suitable for any moment and season. Rosoli with a high alcohol content (about 70 proof) are based on red gelso, malve, santoreggia and wild mint. Their flagship is the Amaro Garìga (about 56 proof) which is based on 43 different essences.
The production is limited because of the picking season of fresh fruits and herbs, conditioned by the spring rains. Therefore it follows the course of the seasons: June is the time for NoceAmaro, July is for the Red gelso, in September the liquor is based on prickly pears, autumn is for melacotogna and pomegranates, myrtle in November. Every bottle therefore tells a unique story and this is why they are all labelled in parchment.
The distribuition of Famiglia Lafronza’s Amari & Rosoli, is in a small shop which infuses that emotion which only a few products are able to convey. Rosoli and Amari collect in a small glass bottle not only the spontaneity of an uncontaminated nature but also a little of Puglia’s spirit, so connected to our people’s hospitality. The Lafronzas know everything about herbs and their properties and they will be happy to tell you if you go visit them in the old downtown of Gravina di Puglia
Amari&Rosoli is right in the old town of Gravina di Puglia (Ba) at Via Antonio Meucci, 6B – Telephone +39 080 325 4138 – facebook: amarierosoli – website: www.amarierosoli.it –email: firstname.lastname@example.org