Thursday, May 3, 2018

G is for Genepy

Elda's Genepy
Our friend Elda has recently gifted us with a bottle of her own artisan Genepy. As this is a traditional Northwestern Alpine liquor, this is what we are sharing with you today.

Piedmont's very diverse landscape can be  divided in layers: a crown of mountains - the Alps, a ring of hills - where our wines and truffles are from, the plain with the longest Italian river, the Po and the lakes flow. This rich diversity in our landscapes generates an amazing variety of climates and biodiversity,  and consequently, of both natural and artisan products.

Seasonality is another key word whenever we are talking of our local products, because wines, cheeses and local dishes are forced to follow the four distinct season Piedmont enjoys every year.
This is why we love to say that in our region, fashion and food together follow the seasons 😁 

So, it doesn't come as a surprise that the very first Italian National Park - Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (established back in 1922) is also located here in Piedmont where we have always felt a deep connection to nature and its rhythms. 

Genepy is a traditional product of the Western side of Piedmont and can also be produced in our neighboring Valle D'Aosta region.
It is made only from specific  and locally grown varieties of the Artemisia genus, a medicinal herb  or shrub of the family of mugwort, sagebrush and wormwood. One of these local varieties is called Genepi because it is used to make this liquor.

These are short, hard herbaceous plants that grow up among the rocks near where glaciers start, at 2000/2700 m or 6561/8858 ft. These short shrubs are 5 to 20 cm or 2 to 8 in tall and follow a quick vital cycle, so they must be picked fairly quickly, at the end of the Alpine summer.

Genepy is an aromatic liqueur normally served as an after dinner shot to ease digestion or to give a boost of energy when hiking up the Alps.

Artemisia Genipi
Bak in the 1960s, some of the tiny mountain valley communities where the Artemisia plants grow decided to farm some Artemisia varieties to answer the great demand for this liquor. Interestingly, they had to locate the farms above 500m 1640 ft high. Unfortunately, only one variety of Artemisia proved successful and this is what makes Genepy an even more precious product given the rarity of the plants that make it.

Once picked, the plants are steeped in alcohol, sugar and water for about forty days to extract all the essential oils and properties, and then, the liquor get distilled.

The added value of Elda's Genepy is in the 5 different wild varieties of handpicked Artemisia: Genipi, Glacialis, Mutellina, Laxa, Umbrelliformis. More herbs equal more essential oils and aromas, plus the artisan genuine factor of every home made product.

Artemisia glacialis 

Naturally, travelers aren't given the luxury to pick wild plants and fly them back home, however, if you love hiking and skiing, Piedmont should definitely be on your buckelist. And from the late spring to the late September, you should consider adding a couple days in our national park - the Great Paraside Park - so rightly named because groundhog and ibex watching and mountain flora observations are just fascinating!

As you hike down to the villages, or whenever you feel like going through the time/space stargate, try different Genepy productions before choosing your favorite one to bring home as a unique souvenir for your family and friends.

... needless to tell you, Genepy is amazing on its own but you can also pour it on a slushy, "correct" a hot tea or add it to anything you judge deserving!

After all Genepy is another of our vidaroyal trademarks 😎

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