Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vermouth Tasting Results


Okay, so we’ve compiled the results from our blind tasting and all is noted below.  Our criteria was to select the best tasting vermouth without consideration of how it would taste with different spirits or other ingredients added, simply on its own at that moment.  All wines were served slightly chilled.  After the tasting, we explored making different cocktails and experiments with the vermouths we didn’t rate as high.  As it turns out they made excellent mixers versus standing on their own. The drinks were remarkable and the nuance of adding different vermouth’s makes a big difference!  I’ll compile all the recipes too and send that out in a future post.  Prices listed are suggested retail.

Extra Dry Category
·         Boissiere – France $8.99, voted least favorite.  Overt chemical aromas and flavor profile
·         Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99, voted 1st place, pleasant oxidized characters and similar to Sherry.  Worked nicely by itself and with food.
·         Vya – California $14.99, voted 2nd place, it was the most unique for scent and flavor.  Strong mulled spices and viscous qualities.

Dry Category
·         Dolin – France $13.99, voted least favorite.  Hot nose and finish coupled with chemical attributes made it unpleasant
·         Noilly Prat – France $9.99, voted 2nd place, strong herbaceous qualities, a bit hot on the nose and palate.
·         Vya – California $14.99, voted 1st place and the clear winner in this category.  Light, crisp, balanced acidity and herbs.

Red Category – There wasn’t a clear winner in this group.  The Dolin and Perucchi tied for first, the Carpano & Cocchi tied for second place. 
·         Carpano Antica Formula – Italy $26.99, came across as medicinal upfront with caramel & fruit tones on the finish
·         Cocchi Storico di Torino – Italy $18.99 voted last place, concentrated root beer flavors without much else
·         Dolin – France $13.99, voted first place.  Most versatile and balance between the sarsaparilla and botanical notes.
·         Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99, great aromatics and garnet color.  Balanced flavor.  A bit polarizing with perfume-like nose.
·         Vergano Chinato  - Italy $44.99, liked not loved.  Near the bottom but more “safe” than interesting.

Sweet White Category
·         Imbue – Oregon $24.99 voted 2nd place and another crowd pleaser.  Well balanced with strong botanicals, acidity and sweetness coming through.
·         Dolin Blanc – France $13.99, 3rd place overall and left a rather lackluster impression on us, however, as guests arrived I poured this as an aperitif over ice with a twist and it was a huge hit. 
·         Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99 voted least favorite.  Lacked balance and structure.
·         Vergano Chinato Luli – Italy $44.99 voted 1st place and praise for another outstanding vermouth overall. 

Sweet Red Category
·         Boissiere – France $8.99, well liked by the group (tied for my personal favorite in this category), perfume-like aromas with sweet/caramel flavors.
·         Carpano Punt e Mes – Italy $19.99, voted least favorite.  Too medicinal and overpowering flavors.  Seems more like a traditional Amaro than a vermouth
·         Dolin – France $13.99, rated better than the Carpano but not by a big margin.  Unbalanced, sharp flavors and didn’t invite further sips.
·         Vya – California $14.99, another crowd pleaser (tied with the Boissiere for me), super aromatic and lingering finish.

Americano Category – I borrowed this description from vermouth101.com
There are a number of venerable aperitif wines that aren’t vermouths, but have much in common with vermouth. One group of these wines is known as “quinquina” (kenKEEnah), because historically these wines feature (or at least include) Peruvian chinchona bark (“quina” in the native Quechua tongue, “china” [KEE-nah] in italian, and possibly Anglicized as china [chai-nuh]) amongst their botanicals. Chinchona bark is the primary source of quinine (the pharmaceutical and taste component of Tonic water). Quinine became the wonder drug of the 18th Century when colonizing Europeans realized that it was beneficial in warding off malaria, and for a while, Europeans were adding quinine to anything and everything. A major market for quinquina was France’s protracted campaign in Algeria, which held large numbers of French troops and administrators in tropical peril. Some quinquina was specifically produced with the French foreign legion in mind.
Americano can be looked at as either a sub-class of quinquina or its own style, entirely. Americano refers to the wordamer—bitter—not the New World. Where quinquina’s defining flavor is quinine, Americano’s is gentian and/or wormwood. Vermouth, quinquina, and americano all draw from much the same pool of botanicals, and their classification or style is a question of the intent behind the proprietary formulation. Both Quinquina and Americano can come in various colors, such as deep red, straw or even clear (colorless). Almost all are based on white wine mistelle, although one notable exception is Byrrh, which is based on a red wine mistelle.

Quinquinas and Americano’s serve a similar function to vermouths: they are excellent aperitifs on their own, and they make fine components of mixed drinks.
Cocchi Americano– Italy $18.99, white
Vergano Chinato Americano – Italy $39.99, red

We couldn’t justify voting on them against one another since one was white and the other was red.  They were both AMAZING. The Vergano was voted best in show by most of the group. 

Stay tuned for a list of cocktails that we are inspired by vermouth.

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