Seven years ago, Andrea Loggia was looking for a sea change for his family of four. He and wife, Marzia, found it in New Zealand, moving here permanently in 2007. For the native Sicilians, Kerikeri in the Far North seemed the perfect place to settle, reminding them of home and conveniently having a good microclimate for growing lemons.
It wasn't until they were missing a quintessential Italian taste from home, limoncello, that the quality of lemons around them started to matter. Thankfully, in Northland there is an abundant supply and the Loggia family are developing their own lemon orchard now.
Although limoncello is made all over the world by lovers of Italy, Andrea says, "it is much more than just reading the recipe - you have to have tasted the real thing, to really know how to make limoncello, to know what it's meant to taste like". Traditionally, limoncello is something crafted at home, with each family having their own unique recipe for ensuring palate-cleansing perfection.
Marzia's family has a lengthy involvement in the wine industry, while Andrea's family have been making liqueurs, particularly limoncello, for more than five generations. That might be why the Sovrano Limoncello does so well in international tastings and competitions - decades of experience, knowledge and the best ingredients available going into every batch.
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In addition to using the best white spirit available here, Andrea and Marzia are committed to using spray-free lemons for as pure a result as possible. This means nearly tripling the work in production to get a perfect finish, as you don't get to use as much of the lemon to account for the blemishes and variations found in a totally natural fruit. In addition, because each lemon varies in size, juiciness, sweetness and oils, every hand-crafted step of the process is crucial to ensuring the taste is "just as it should be, just like Italy".
Still, it's all worth it when the bottles consistently score 94/95 out of 100 points. They've now won a raft of gold and silver medals overseas.
We're grateful for all the effort. The perfect limoncello should have a lingering finish without overpowering the palate. This one delivered a well-balanced flavour in a smooth, silky texture with a zesty, rich finish. Andrea also makes a cream-based limoncello as well, a decadent end to a meal.
We'd recommend trying a limoncello mojito, replacing white or golden rum with 2oz of limoncello, mint, fresh lemon or lime, a touch of sugar, topped with soda. Or, serve it traditionally (chilled straight from the freezer) as a palate cleanser after a meal in the same manner you would serve port. Pair it with a dark chocolate dessert for a tantalising tease of the tastebuds.
Where to buy:
The Food Store at the Viaduct, Sabato, online. RRP $41.50.