The vermouth category is often overlooked, with many customers not realising perhaps how much vermouth impacts a wide variety of serves, with the Martini and Manhattan cocktails probably the two most commonly known. I’ve featured a good range of vermouth brands on this site so far, from the well-known to the newly formed, but a common theme for these is the country of origin. Italy and France are the two stalwarts when it comes to production, and are seen around the country in nearly all bars, restaurants and cafés. It’s these experiences that we bring back to the UK and enjoy with perhaps soda or bitter lemon. But have you ever thought outside the box a little? Perhaps going for Belsazar, a German based vermouth?
Belsazar vermouth can trace itself to 2013 with its two creators, Sebastian Brack and Maximillian Wagner. They saw the lack of German vermouths in the market and looked into the fact that Germany is home to a wide variety of plants, herbs and spices. Wine is also a great export from the country, and the two founders teamed with Philipp Schladerer of The Schladerer Distillery, south of Braden, to combine these elements and produce what we see today.
For the base of each of the four expressions, wines from the South Baden region of Germany are sourced, in particular from award-winning wine makers at Kaiserstuhl and in Markgräflerland. They also keep it local for the acquisition of grape must, a natural sweetener used instead of normal sugar, and utilise the family run company Schladerer in the Black Forest for the fruit brandy that gives a twist to the finished liquids. Ultimately, with a blend of the 6 wines, they are flavoured with up to 20 different spices, herbs, peels and blossoms with the addition of the brandy and must.
Once each expression has been created, the liquid is aged within stone casks, believed that the temperature will be consistent compared to wooden oak barrels.
But how do each fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Fresh, strudel aromas of grape and apple on the nose. Light, slightly sweet and with notes of orange, bark on the palate. Slightly dry and bitter on the finish, with aromatic apricot lingering.
Belsazar White – 18%
Rich, sweet aromas of dried oranges and fresh peach on the nose. Thin and sweet upon the palate, with a slight explosion of herbal root and dry spice combining to a long, slightly bitter finish.
Belsazar Rosé – 17.5%
Slightly bitter notes of raspberry, grapefruit and orange on the nose. Light, floral and aromatic flavours of currants, peach and quinine on the palate create a dry, more herbal finish.
Belsazar Red – 18%
Rich aromas of vanilla, fudge and cocoa on the nose. Incredibly smooth, velvet almost, with a developing bitter cinnamon flavour around the cherry and spice base. Very dry on the lingering finish.
An interesting range, and definitely offers a different flavour profile to the Italian and French styles. I can see them working very well within the likes of these recipes –
60 ml full-bodied Cuban rum
30 ml Belsazar Vermouth Dry
1 teaspoon of Orange Curacao
3 dashes of Grenadine
Pour all ingredients into a mixing tumbler, fill with ice cubes and stir until cool. Pour into a pre-chilled Martini glass and serve with orange zest.
With Beurre Blanc Belsazar, fennel greens and balm, for 4 persons:
4 common scallops in shells · 100ml fish stock · 50ml Belsazar dry · 2 shallots · 120g butter · 50g French bread · 5g fennel greens · 1 sprigs balm · sea salt, pepper, cane sugar, oil
Cut French bread into slices and dry in the oven at 140 degrees for about 10 minutes. Carefully open the scallops with a knife, separate scallop meat from roe and offal, and clean the shell under running water. Lay the shell aside. Peel the shallots and cut into very small cubes.
Put 50g butter in a pan and let it melt, add breadcrumbs and fry lightly by stirring constantly. Now add 50 g of cold butter to the cooled base sauce and stir slowly with a whisk until the butter has completely dissolved. Scallops in 3 tbsp oil Sear on both sides in a skillet over high heat, add 20 g of butter and remove from heat. Leave the scallops in brown butter to infuse. Fill each bellied scallop shell with buttered breadcrumbs, lay each roasted mussel and sprinkle with Beurre Blanc “Belsazar”.
Garnish with fennel greens and balm. Cover again with a little of buttered breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
I do love a versatile brand! Some great recipes there, and one’s you should definitely try out sooner rather than later. Now launched in the UK after initially hitting Germany, expect to see plenty of these expressions hitting your favourite bar.in the near future.
© 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.