Campari Australia is excited about introducing their new line of small batch Cinzano vermouth. Brand Ambassador Daniele Pirotta has a chat with Sergio Cocito, head of the Vermouth and Sparkling Wine division for the Cinzano Brand over in the Novi Ligure Plant (Piemonte, Italy) to find out a bit more about this amazing liquid and who’s behind its creation.
Daniele Pirotta: Ciao Sergio, before we get stuck into it, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Sergio Cocito: Well, what’s to know about myself? I currently run the division that produces from scratch all of the Cinzano vermouth and wines at our Novi Ligure plant, I have been proudly nurturing the Cinzano brand for the last 15 years.
You are a “Piemontese DOC” how long have you been in the wine AND vermouth business?
Essentially my whole working life, for about 20 years now I have been producing vermouth, also looking after other historical brands, and have been an eno-logyst and eno-technician for the past 25. It’s really in my blood.
On top of your 9 to 5, is it true that you also have a small family owned wine making business?? I have to share with our readers the fact that instead of a front garden at your place, you actually have three hills full of different autochthonous vines!
Absolutely true, as you know it’s a 4th generation wine making operation run by my father. I remember us sipping on our latest rose release last time you were here… good times!
Now let’s talk about the new 1757 Cinzano range. When, why, how?
It was a natural evolution. With the global vermouth revolution and premiumization trends, we made the decision of creating a new small batch blend of infusions and natural extracts that would pay homage to an ancient formula of Torinese vermouth, with a specific attention to the modern bartender looking for specific flavour profiles, which they would absolutely adore and enjoy working with.
An “old recipe with an eye to the future”, who was involved in the creation of 1757?
I would be lying if I took all the credit for it, we had a whole team or research and development supporting the project, together with the extremely passionate team responsible of selecting the herbs and spices that we strictly run through several lab quality control processes, and which we proudly get at the distillery “WHOLE” and not already “TEA CUT”. We have a more consistent and rigorous control on the prime raw materials this way. Making sure we have the upmost quality in the “spices” we use makes our life easier in delivering an amazing finished product. Blessed to have a very strong and passionate team behind every single step of the crafting process.
1757 ROSSO has got an amazing harmonious balanced bitterness on the palate, did you achieve this by adding or changing any key botanicals like gentian root, chincona and or Chinese rhubarb? What about vanilla? In terms of 1757 Bianco, it is all fruit up front, it is impossible not to get addicted by it! Maybe peach or apricots? Can you share some insight on some key botanicals at all? Did I get any right or am I miles away?
Dani, in the past I have told you already way too many secrets, you already know what you shouldn’t, and we also had to ban you from the “spice room” here at NOVI… our recipes are secretly guarded and I wouldn’t be able to tell you if you got close or if you’re far from it… what matters is that both Rosso and Bianco deliver an outstanding drinking experience. Right?
Come on Sergio, any key botanicals at all for our readers?
You know my answer. No comment. What I can add to this is the fact that we are one of the very few distilleries and vermouth producers left that do everything from A to Z under the same roof. Every infusion, maceration, distillation, oil extraction and tincture are executed under the attentive eyes of the production team starting from the raw ingredients. We are probably the only place left that also produces our own 100% natural E150 caramel (to give ROSSO its gorgeous dark amber hue) from raw sugar. We don’t buy any extracts or flavours whatsoever from third party producers, nor do we utilize shortcuts like ultrasound infusion/extraction. “Ultrasounding” may be more cost effective and a faster procedure to extract flavour, but you end up smashing and ruining the cellular composition of the botanicals with the constant bombing. We may take way longer (up to five months) but it is all natural and we are proud of it.
Vermouth means 75% minimum white wine as a base. We use top quality Trebbiano from Emilia Romagna. Why this grape and not any other?
Its neutrality and good acidity level is what we are after. An aromatic grape like Moscato or Malvasia would make the final composition a more unpredictable challenge, risking to overshadow some of the key nuances we want to express thought our botanical range.
How do you like to enjoy 1757 ROSSO and BIANCO?
Well our new Bianco is fresh and vibrant, fruit forward and I think the best way to drink it is slightly chilled with a few ice cubes and a freshly cut lemon wedge, “uno tira l’altro” (Italian saying for can’t get enough of it). The structure of our Rosso makes it an absolute stunner to drink on its own, on the rocks. I like it with some fresh orange oils expressed on the surface. I must say it makes a killer Americano as well. Having said that, as you know I am a bit of a purist, so just pour me a big glass of vermouth, it is essentially already a cocktail in a bottle!
How does it feel to be in charge of the production for such a heritage historical brand?
CINZANO is a huge name. It shaped the way Italians and the whole world drink vermouth and do Aperitivo. Both a humbling and challenging task. A massive weight to carry on my shoulders, but an exciting journey made extremely easy and pleasant thanks to the best people that day in and day out conduct every single task with a deep love for what we do and upmost passion.
And finally, when are you going to visit us here Downunder?
Funny you ask, my roots actually connect me back to Australia. You see, my grandma was born in QLD from one of the first Italian sugar cane farming families that came over, she moved back to Italy and build her life but her brother built an empire in Oz. I have many relatives still there and they are so very proud of my role at Cinzano today, as they tell me stories of how the brand was huge in Oz back in the 50s and 60s when it was produced in Alexandria (NSW). It was definitely the favourite drink for many households. An Australian visit is on the radar, I shall see you very soon my friend, for now CIN CIN!
Did you know?
- Before the word vermouth was officially utilised from Carpano in 1786, many other families were in the liqueur and aromatised wine business around Torino and greater Savoy kingdom. Amongst these were the Cinzano Brothers who opened up shop and received their licence back in 1757. This year marks their 260 years of wine making and vermouth producing history and heritage.
- The universally known and acknowledged way to say cheers in Italian “CIN CIN” actually comes from an early Cinzano advertisement black and white poster that said, to good health cheers with “CIN CIN CINZANO”. It later became one of the house slogans and soon after the National way to celebrate when clinging glasses together.