July 15, 2011

New, Rarely Seen Vermouths

New Vermouths

Why are these exciting?

Where many mass-produced dry Vermouths taste like stale wine and the sweet ones are sticky sweet, Dolin’s 3 styles are markedly lighter and fresher with fresh herb flavors and a clean finish.

Hauz Alpenz is a specialty spirits importer run by Eric Seed, who has been called “the Indiana Jones of lost spirits” by Food & Wine magazine because he combs the earth for all-but-forgotten aperitifs and liqueurs that have soul and a sense of place.

Easterly Wines, Maine’s first niche wine distributor, has brought several of these treasures into the state:

· The vermouth-like Chinati from the Italian house Cocchi

· The famed Vermouth de Chambéry from Dolin

Now Mainers can taste a true James Bond “Vesper” martini or the famous hangover remedy, “Corpse Reviver,” from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.

Corpse Reviver

1/3 Italian Vermouth (we recommend Carpano)
1/3 Apple Brandy or Calvados
1/3 Brandy

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. To be taken whenever steam or energy are needed.

Corpse Reviver No. 2

1 part Lemon Juice
1 part Lillet
1 part Cointreau
1 part Dry Gin
1 Dash Absinthe

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

Dolin Vermouth

The French House of Dolin has been in continuous operation since 1821. It is credited with the invention of Blanc Vermouth, later adding Dry and Rouge. In 1932 it won the only Appellation d’Origine for Vermouth in France. It is the last remaining House to produce Vermouth de Chambéry. Vermouth de Chambéry is its own appellation.

All of Dolin’s Vermouths are made from the white wines of Chambéry, including the Rouge. The Rouge gains its color from the infusion of plants and dark, carmelized sugar used in its production. Most of the wine comes from the Armagnac vineyards of the Gers.

Dolin Vermouths are lighter, more dry and less pungent than most mass-produced Vermouths. The plants used to infuse the Dolin vermouths are also from Chambéry, giving these Vermouths even more of a sense of terroir.

Dolin’s exact recipes are a closely guarded secret, but they include as many as 54 different plants, including wormwood, chamomile, hyssop, rose petals, chincona bark and more. The finished product is 75-80% wine, much more than mass-produced varieties.

Each Dolin Vermouth offers a fresh, restrained and elegant nose, with a subtle, complex bittersweet taste. Even the Blanc and Rouge retain great balance, with the sugar never cloyingly sweet and just enough bitterness to whet the appetite.

Each can be enjoyed as an aperitif on ice with a twist of citrus, or in a broad array of cocktails.

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry - $14.99 for a 750ml bottle, $10.99 for a half bottle. Refreshing, complex…..makes a great martini and drinks wonderfully over ice with a twist.

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Blanc - $14.99 for a 750ml bottle, $10.99 for a half bottle. This has a wonderfully light and refreshing taste. It’s hugely complex and is more herbal than anything else. It tastes like a meadow full of wildflowers smells – refreshing and pure. This has a touch of sweetness that the Dry Vermouth doesn’t have.

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Rouge - $14.99 for a 750ml bottle, $10.99 for a half bottle. This has more pronounced herbal flavors than the Dry or the Blanc. It’s both weightier and softer than the Dry or the Blanc.

Persephone Cocktail

Ice, 1 ounce applejack, ¾ ounce Dolin Rouge Vermouth, ½ ounce Plymouth Sloe Gin, ½ ounce fresh lemon juice, ½ ounce simple syrup. Fill a pint glass with ice. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

House of Cocchi Vermouth

In the late 1800’s, the Asti-based (Piedmont, Italy) House of Cocchi started making Vermouths. The Italian Vermouths are called “Chinati.” They were originally flavored with quinine.

Cocchi’s Vermouth di Torino has used the Muscato grape as its base since 1891. Vermouth di Torino is one of only two protected geographical designations for Vermouth.

Cocchi’s Americano and Torino are made precisely the way they were in 1891.

Cocchi Vermouth Americano - $19.99 for a 750ml bottle. This is made with fruit, spices, chincona, gentian and citrus on a Moscato d’Asti base. It is laid down for a year before it is released. This is the missing link in the James Bond “Vesper” martini. It’s what brings the “Corpse Reviver” to life. But, it can be enjoyed on its own or over ice with a twist of orange zest and a splash of soda.

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino - $19.99 for a 750ml bottle. It has rich notes of cocoa, citrus and rhubarb and a balanced bitter undertone. It’s complex and delicious enough to drink “neat,” or use it as a substitute for sweet Vermouth to make cocktails.

Cocchi Vermouth Barolo Chinato - $69.99 for a 500ml bottle. As the name indicates, this is made on a base of Barolo. It’s infused with quinine bark, rhubarb, ginger and a variety of aromatic spices. This is the Rolls Royce of Chinati. Generally enjoyed neat, after dinner, especially with good dark chocolate.

James Bond “Vesper” Martini

3 parts Gordon’s Gin (this is the old-style Gordon’s of 1953)

1 part Vodka

½ part Cocchi Americano

A long, thin lemon peel

Shaken, not stirred

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