Continuing a little from the inspiration behind the feature on the Nardini range, it was to be around this time that I came across the French name of Distilleries et Domaines de Provence. Looking at the photo above, you may be hard pressed to recognise the labels, or indeed the names, but this very reason is behind the initiative that Mal Spence had with the Inverso Masterclass, giving the light of day to a brand that offers something a little different.
Lets dive in.
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence is a name who have been in the history books since 1898, creating and producing Provençal liqueurs and aperitifs in Forcalquier, located in the Haute Provence region of France. This specific region is also recognised as a “Site Remarquable du Goût” (Site of Exceptional Taste). The inspiration behind the setup came from the tradition of collecting medicinal plants on Lure mountain, an area known for its abundance of plant species. It’s here that gatherers from as far back as the Middle Ages carefully harvested and distilled the herbs, eventually turning into pharmacists or apothecaries. Around the 19th century, beverages were starting to become popular, with digestifs and aperitifs becoming a common sight, and the act of drawing out the plants aromas and substances became the force behind many of today’s liqueurs and aperitifs.
The vermouths that are being focused on here, are produced from four different recipes using ingredients which are harvested locally and marinated with local provence wine. Lets take a look at each expression a little close –
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence Gentiane de Lure – 16%
One of the two oldest Distilleries et Domaines de Provence recipes, gentian roots are collected then dried before putting them into a liqueur wine to extract the flavours. On this base, they incorporate fresh gentian roots, sweet and bitter oranges and Peruvian bark. When maceration ends (in six months to a year), the gentian roots, citrus peels and Peruvian bark are separated from the alcohol extract called an infusion. This infusion will be mixed with the liqueur wine and alcohol and Lubéron white wine. After combining the different ingredients, the Gentiane de Lure is aged in a barrel for 6 weeks.
Plenty of herbal and citrus notes combining on the nose. Rich, ripe yet becomes slowly lighter. A burst of bold citrus on the palate, although subdues quickly to give a mellow, fresh aromatic herbal flavour. Lingering with a slight bitterness.
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence Noix de la Saint Jean – 15%
Produced by the infusion of green nuts obtained by maceration of fresh nuts (Dauphiné, Mayette and Franquette varieties) according to the tradition on St. John’s day (the origin of the name of this aperitif). The nuts are crushed in an old arm crusher then placed to macerate in a mixture of wine and alcohol for 6 to 12 days in order to extract all of the aromatic part of the fruit. A maceration of stain of dry nuts also is made.
A maceration of spices (cinnamon, cloves, peppers, nutmeg) is made fifteen days before the final product is created.
When these macerations end, they draw out the infusions: green nut infusion, nut stain infusion and infusion of aromatics to add them to the aperitif. The fruit or spices are then distilled.
The infusions, spirits and flavors are mixed into the wine, sugar and alcohol to make the Noix de la Saint Jean. Then, it will be necessary to wait 5 to 6 months in order to drink the aperitif.
Lots of walnut, dried fruit and oatmeal bread notes on the nose. Ripe berry flavours upon the palate, with a slight sweetness creating a smooth texture. Aromatic walnut is present on the lingering finish.
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence Orange Colombo – 15%
Produced by creating orange infusions made from orange rinds, Côte d’Azur type “green ribbons,” and sweet orange rinds macerated in a water and alcohol mixture. After combining the various ingredients, it is then aged in a barrel for 6 weeks.
Ripe orange ring hits the nose first, but mellows slightly with orange spice and mandarin aromas. Well-balanced on the palate, with sweeter notes counteracting the bitter orange. Plenty of aromatic orange zest on the light yet very dry finish.
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence Rinquinquin – 15%
Three variety of peaches are picked when ripe, including The Cardinale, The Coronet and The Junegold. The peaches are picked at the end of October when they start to take on their golden colour. The fruit and leaves are placed to macerate separately in mixtures of alcohol and wine, and takes between 6 and 12 months to obtain the fruit and leaves aromas for the resulting infusions. After blending the three peach infusions, the Rinquinquin is aged in barrels for 6 months.
Intense, ripe peaches on the nose, with a slight citrus zest coming through. Natural sweetness of the peaches come through on the palate, with a bold, dry hit of the peach hitting near the flesh driven finish.
Some fantastic aperitifs here, and ones to enjoy either on its own, over ice, or as part of one of these –
45 ml Rye Whisky
15 ml Rinquinquin
1 drop of Angostura Bitters
Mix the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass.
40 ml Orange Colombo
20 ml Cranberry juice
10 ml lime juice
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker and serve in the ice-filled glass. Decorate with 2 cherries on a stick in the glass.
Some fantastic ideas to enjoy a refreshing alternative to your usual tipple. Bartenders are coming across these flavours more and more, offering simple ideas to enjoy not just before a meal, but whatever time of day. Pick yourself a bottle or two up and take your palate in a different direction this Spring.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.