Perth’s summer buzz – the Vermouth evolution
October 1, 2015
After patiently waiting backstage for generations, Vermouth is stepping boldly through the curtains and emerging centre stage. Yes, I said Vermouth. While you could be forgiven for having dismissed this humble beverage as merely a necessary component of your Martini or Manhattan, based on my recent experience, I must encourage you to reacquaint yourself with this traditional aromatised wine. It has evolved.
My attention was recently drawn to Vermouth when a friend of mine from Sydney arrived in Perth for the Italian Wine & Food Festival and paid me a spontaneous visit. To my delight, he brought with him a sample of Vermouth Del Professore. I am not sure if it was his infectious enthusiasm or his grounding dedication to unique, small batches of quality organic wines, but the atmosphere was the perfect complement to the tasting. Vermouth Del Professore, pure unadulterated, unmixed vermouth – enchanting.
Vermouth has passed through the ages, morphing from its origins as a medicinal tonic in ancient times, to the popular aperitif, Carpano, named and produced by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in T0rino, Italy during the late 18th Century. It has since lived though the 19th and 20th Century becoming a staple ingredient in industrial style cocktails and cooking, which sadly, masked it’s true personality. But now, the true worth of Vermouth is being recognized and revered throughout the world, with an explosion of Vermouth and spirit varieties appearing in boutique bars all over the globe, and let’s face it, what’s not to love?
As I mentioned, Vermouth is an aromatised wine fortified with spirits, and of course while the quality depends on the base wine, for me its real magic comes from the infusion of unique spices, herbs, roots, barks, flowers and seeds. It is the combination of these treasures of nature that bring Vermouth to life and make each taste an exotic experience. In fact sometimes I feel that Vermouth is more like a potion, than a wine.
Vermouth Del Professore was no exception, it was truly captivating. With the expected Vermouth bitterness beautifully offset by a honeyed sweetness, the signature taste of wormwood and gentian blended harmoniously with hints of clove, and was finally lifted by a playful touch of lemon.
It is interesting to note that the enchanting aromatic botanicals that are bringing Vermouth into the limelight, were once gathered solely from the alpine slopes surrounding Turino in Italy, but are now being locally sourced around the world as regions attempt to create their own versions of the increasingly popular beverage.
While the delightfully intense flavours distinctive of Italian Vermouths, such as Punt e Mes, Contratto and Carpano, French versions like Noilly Prat and Dolin and Spanish Perucchi and Casa Mariol are undisputed, there are a number of uniquely Australian Vermouths appearing on the stage – A few notables: Maidenii, Regal Rogue and Causes and Cures. What better compliment to an relaxing Australian afternoon than the unique scent and flavours of Lemon myrtle, eucalypt and wattle seed; just some of the native botanical aspects of emerging Australian wines. Vermouth is here.
In fact, I anticipate that Vermouth will be the drink of summer in Perth this year; inseparable from our outdoor culture of seaside eateries and long afternoon lunches. We are set to see a refreshing explosion of varieties as European distribution increases, Australian varieties gain notoriety, and Vermouth ultimately asserts its transformation from commercial stock standard to an exciting and distinctly trendy beverage in its own right.
I am truly looking forward to reacquainting myself with the many intriguing personalities of Vermouth this summer. Have I enticed you to join me?