Studio Fuksas Bubbles for Nardini Grappa

One day Giuseppe Nardini, president of the Nardini distillery at the time, called the architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. To celebrate the long history of the family business, the entrepreneur had initially thought of a work of art, but the final choice ultimately fell on architecture. There were no indications for the budget, nor for the functions that the space would house. The only certainty was the location: Bassano del Grappa, in the area of Vicenza.
In the middle of a lunch, when Giuseppe Nardini saw the location, Studio Fuksas founders began sketching with a marker on a plate. Thus the Nardini Bubbles were born. Suspended over a body of water, they rise skyward, overlooking the oak park designed by the landscape architect Pietro Porcinai and offering a unique view over the landscape of Mount Grappa.

Nardini, a history rooted in 18th-century Veneto

The history of Nardini grappa begun in 1779, in Bassano del Grappa, a town between the hills of Veneto and the mountains of the Pre-Alps crossed by the Brenta River. In the area, the production of the drink from wine-making waste had been widespread at least since the 18th century, when distillation was a common practice. However, the story of the oldest grappa distillery in Italy begins when Bortolo Nardini decided to start his own small business in Bassano.
Bortolo Nardini was born in 1739 in Segonzano, near Trento, a town with an ancient winemaking tradition where the practice of distilling grape skins was widespread. Distillers used to move from house to house, from door to door, with their mobile stills, but an accident forced Bortolo Nardini to stop the activity near Bassano del Grappa.

It was then that he seized the opportunities of a strategic commercial crossroads between Venice, Trentino and Austria. Bortolo Nardini bought the Osteria al Ponte, a stone’s throw from Ponte Vecchio, the symbol of the Venetian city, and began producing grappa on a regular basis, in order to resell it to the farmers who gave him the pomace for grappa production. The river provided the water through direct extraction from the Brenta and the surrounding hills guaranteed the quantity and quality of pomace. In the workshop, at the entrance from the Ponte degli Alpini bridge, stood out an inscription: “Acquavite di vinaccia”.

Bolle Nardini
Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas’ Nardini Bubbles  (ph. Maurizio Marcato)

Nardini Bubbles, a project signed by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas

Thus Italy‘s first grappa was born: Grappa Nardini. For seven generations, the Nardini family has continued the production, following the traditions of the Veneto region. Growing from generation to generation, the distillery became also known for the Bolle di Nardini, the project designed by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas for the 225th anniversary of the company. Two transparent ellipsoidal bubbles, suspended by six columns over a reflecting pool of water, house the research center’s laboratories. The ramp provides access to another volume carved into the ground like a natural canyon: the auditorium.
In the architecture, the technological and ethereal lightness of the bubbles meets the brutality of the concrete in the auditorium: the building becomes a manifesto of the values of Nardini grappa that, for more than two centuries, has sought originality while respecting tradition.

An outstanding product, today as yesterday

At Nardini’s, history goes in hand with innovation and a continuous search for perfection in distillation technique. In 1860, the family introduced the steam still, a method that improves the quality of grappa compared to direct-fire stills amd the quality of the pomace is preserved without burning it. Fifty years later, Grappa Nardini Riserva was born, aged in oak barrels. In 1919, the double rectification technique, ensuring high purity of the product and alcohols carefully selected. In the 1960s, low-temperature vacuum distillation.

Today, the company uses different varieties of red and white grape pomace, selected and preserved before being stored in concrete tanks for natural fermentation in the absence of air. After two months, the tanks are opened and the distillation process begins through three different types of stills: steam still, bain-marie still and distillation column still. Only at this point, the noble part of the product is selected, then further refined in a special still and finally left to fully mature for one year in the case of Bianca or three years in oak barrels in the case of Grappa Riserva.
Nardini grappa can also be recognized by its labels made by the historical Remondini print shop in Bassano. Their communication, packaging and initiatives launched with international bartenders, aimed at promoting the culture of grappa, go along with modern times. Today, grappa is the most famous Italian distillate in the world and still honors Mount Grappa in the Venetian Prealps where it all began.

Grappa Nardini
Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas’ Nardini Bubbles (ph. Matteo Danesin)

Opening image: Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas’ Nardini Bubbles  (ph. by Maurizio Marcato)


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