A Frenchman and an Aussie talk vermouth

Long gone are the days when the only vermouths we had at our disposal were Martini and Cinzano. Not that there’s anything wrong with those two — we happen to think they’re both among the finest options for a Negroni. But there’s a fair few more on the market today.

The process by which vermouth is made can be pretty opaque at times though, so we asked a couple of producers to elaborate on how you make vermouth.

Company: Maidenii
The Expert: Shaun Byrne
The Job: Director
Length of time in role: 3.5 years

Could you briefly describe your production setup?
We are a grape to glass producer, we control everything in the process; growing, picking, pressing, fermenting, macerating, blending, fortifying, bottling and in some cases even pouring and mixing.

How important is the base wine for the resulting vermouth?
Incredibly important, according to the EU the base wine for vermouth must be 75 per cent of the volume. If something is going to be three quarters of your product it is important that there is a focus on this. We carefully selected different grape varieties to suit the style of each vermouth, picking and pressing them specifically for vermouth production. We don’t buy pre-made bulk wine, instead choosing to go down the labour-intensive route of doing everything ourselves to make sure we have a product produced specifically with the end usage in mind. So to reiterate, the base wine is very important to our product.


Can you describe your base wine?
We use viognier grapes for Maidenii Dry, syrah for Maidenii Classic and cabernet for Maidenii Sweet. The time we pick and the way we press is also quite important to the process, but something we want to keep under wraps for now.

What can you tell us about the botanicals you use to flavour your vermouth?
The first and foremost is the namesake of vermouth: wormwood. For us (and the EU) this is something that must be mandatory in the production of vermouth. We forage for wormwood ourselves harvesting only the best bushes. Next we focus on Australian natives, there are 12 we use in the 34 blend makeup. Have a look through the website (www.maidenii.com.au) for exact details on the botanicals we talk about.

How does your process differ between each style of vermouth?
As mentioned before we use different grapes for each style. We also adjust the botanicals to suit the grapes and the end goal of the vermouth.


Producer: EWG Spirits & Wine
The Expert: Jean-Sébastien Robicquet
The Job: President and Founder
Length of time in role: Since EWG’s creation in 2001

Could you briefly describe your production setup?
Built on its relationship with grapes, its history and its culture, EuroWineGate uniquely revisits the categories of spirits and embodies the expertise and the new French luxury.

Born in the heart of the vineyards of Charente, France, and made using the finest ingredients including Pineau des Charentes, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is an elegant and refined vermouth of impeccable quality and opulent taste. It is inspired by Jean-Baptiste La Quintinye, himself born in Charente, the botanist gardener to Louix IV, and designer of the legendary kitchen gardens at the palace of Versailles.

How important is the base wine for the resulting vermouth? Can you describe your base wine?
The wine base is fundamentally important to our production and grapes are at the heart of everything we do at EWG.
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is a blend of Pineau des Charentes and white wines from the South West of France, which I carefully select. The white wine is a blend of grape varietals such as Ugni-Blanc and Colombard, also used for the Cognac production, but also includes Muscadelle, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and the lesser known Loin de L’Oeil native to the South West of France.
Pineau des Charentes is a unique sweet fortified wine of the Charente region, with an aromatic complexity, smoothness, and freshness. Made by blending grape juice and Cognac from a single estate, it is produced in a delimited geographical area shared with the Cognac appellation, and can be white or red.

The Pineau des Charentes provides fullness and intensity through its aromas, which are perfectly balanced with the bitterness of the plants.

What can you tell us about the botanicals you use to flavour your vermouth?
Carefully selected for their purity and aromatic properties, a base of 12 plants and spices make up the core and are shared by the three products. Wormwood is at the centre stage of this selection as a mandatory component of vermouths, along with vine flower, a EWG trademark, along with Angelica, Cinchona, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Bitter Orange, Nutmeg, Ginger, Iris Roots, Liquorice and Quassia Amara.

Each variant is then completed with its own specific selection. In total, 28 plants and spices compose La Quintinye Rouge, 18 make up the Blanc variety and 27 are used in La Quintinye Extra Dry.

How do the processes differ between each style of vermouth you make?
First of all, the blend of white wine and Pineau des Charentes differ between each variant.

La Quintinye Blanc and Extra Dry share the same wine base components, hence white wines and Pineau des Charentes Blanc. However, the use of Pineau des Charentes in the Extra Dry will be expertly adjusted to allow its classification in the extra-dry category.

La Quintinye Rouge blends white wines with Pineau des Charentes Rouge, naturally providing the deep amber colour to our vermouth.

From a uniformed base of 12 botanicals, each variant is then completed by imparting additional botanicals. Overall, a total of 37 botanicals are used across the three expressions of La Quintinye Vermouth Royal.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.