Riserva Carlo Alberto Tasting Notes

Riserva Carlo Alberto

I’m on a bit of a vermouth mission at the moment. My previous post took a look at an Italian range which hit the UK at the latter end of last year. This particular range came to fruition in 2011, but this article will focus on a name that has been in production since the 1800’s, yet only recently came to the shores of the UK. Let’s take a look at Riserva Carlo Alberto.

To begin our experience, we must take a look at how the societies of Turin and Piedmont  came to enjoy their pre-dinner aperitif.

During the era of King Carlo Alberto (1831 to 1849), the King of Piedmont-Sardinia within the small Savoy Kingdom, Italy, the industrial revolution was emerging, with two sides becoming visible. On one side, the civil and commercial innovations were making Piedmont the most advanced state in Europe, yet on the other, the social principles found support in the small crafted movements that made Turin the capital of the world in alchemy. The ritual of Vermouth (or Vermut in the Piedmont dialect) before meals was the moment when all the innovative persons met within a variety of locations. From café  to restaurants, piolas (wineries where food was served) to salons, wherever was convenient, it was here that it would be a time where they could discuss politics and economics.

Riserva Carlo Alberto itself came about via King Carlo Alberto’s chef who prepared especially a vermouth fitting for a King (pun intended). The recipe was passed to a fine wine shopkeeper named Tumalin Baracco Bartolomé de Baracho, who continued to run an exclusive production of the vermouth for almost two hundred years. Once King Carlo Alberto passed away, he named it after him so his legacy could be spoken. Today, they still make limited editions of vermouth using the wines listed in the original recipe (Caluso Erbaluce and Asti Muscat).

I’m going to quote from the brands website now as I think they capture the method of Riserva Carlo Alberto better than I can re-write it –

“Starting from the base wine, which must be an excellent one. As per the 1837 recipe, we use the DOGC Asti Muscat and the DOGC Caluso Erbaluce, the latter produced in a very limited quantity, almost impossible to find. To this superb base, we add 43 botanical elements: herbs, berries, spices, flowers and fruits selected and infused in 45° alcohol for 40 days. Afterward, we lightly filter the steeping and decant it in Piedmont barrels for approximately 3 to 6 months, regularly testing for the perfect ripening of the matrix before bottling. This Vermut can be tasted similarly to Carlo Alberto’s way who sipped it straight as an aperitif, 10 minutes before meals. Otherwise, it expresses its best characters in cocktails . . . “

Before we go onto the perfect serves, I mentioned of the limited editions, which three expressions out of the five strong portfolio are available in the UK. So below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Riserva Carlo Alberto Bianco – 18%

Flavoured with 25 herbs and spices. A sweet aroma of honey is present on the nose. Sharp on the palate, yet the sweetness soon overtakes. A smoother finish than expected, with honey, banana and a bold kick of spice to finish.

Riserva Carlo Alberto Extra Dry – 18%

Flavoured with 21 herbs and spices. Soft, light, perfumed aromas on the nose with a more herbaceous scent unravelling. Sharp on the palate, but it soon mellows into an extremely light flavour. A little tart with citrus and herb flavours mixing.

Riserva Carlo Alberto Rosso – 18%

Flavoured with 27 herbs and spices. Fresh cherry aromas on the nose, with soft herbs and hints of spice. Ripe red fruit on the palate, incredibly soft texture creating a lingering flesh apple finish. Stunning.

A great range, with the Rosso a personal highlight for me. Absolutely perfect for a pre-dinner tipple, but of course, many will know vermouth to be a part of some of these bar favourites –

Manhattan Centre

Glass – 

Coupet

Ingredients – 

25 ml Riserva Carlo Alberto Red Vermut
75 ml Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
A drop of Angostura Bitters

Method – 

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and pour into a coupet glass. Decorate with a maraschino cherry

or perhaps

Go Go La Vita

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients – 

40 ml Riserva Carlo Alberto White Vermut
30 ml Soda water
30 ml Orange juice

Method – 

Build over ice and decorate with half an orange slice.

Although not widely available as of yet, I’d keep an eye out for it. The Italian bartenders have been playing around with the brand and have come up with some cracking ideas and recipes. Just imagine what would happen when the likes of London, Manchester and Edinburgh get their hands on it. I think vermouth is going to be the new trend, catch it while you can.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

 

 

Mancino Tasting Notes

Mancino

Vermouth is a category that I’ve touched on a couple of times in the past, although these have mainly been some of the more recognisable names such as Cinzano, as well as covering the likes of Cocchi and Sacred, but I’ve personally noticed a trend that seems to be happening here in the UK, with the rise of some crafted variations hitting our shores.

Mancino vermouth is one such brand. Arriving to us at the back-end of December last year, Mancino hails from Italy, and more specifically, world-renowned Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino. But how did Giancarlo come to name a range of vermouth’s after himself?

In truth, there doesn’t need to be a stellar history to a brand, or an ingenious idea to make it work, instead, inspiration and dedication seem to be behind the name. So lets take a look.

Giancarlo mastered four years of research, culminating in the year 2011. During these years, he personally found forty different botanicals which he deemed to be worthy to be a part of his new spirit, travelling to the likes of India, Thailand, Vietnam and England and his native Italy. Once found, he utilised a family run traditional mill that dates back to the 1930’s, located in Piedmont, Northern Italy. It’s here that he grounds the botanicals over thirty days.

The distillery he uses after this is considered the birthplace of many wines and vermouths since 1957. The perfect place to steep the botanical extracts within sugar beet spirit (30% abv) before being added to a Trebbiano di Romagna wine base (12% abv). After being mixed, it is cooled and filtered for a week.
Once finished, it will spend the next six months within a stainless steel tank, before being bottled and labelled.

The bottles themselves adorn on the each the image of the town surrounded by King Vittorio Emanuele gold coins. Four bottling’s are currently in production – Secco, Bianco Ambrato, Rosso Amaranto and Vecchio. With this, below, I’d like to present to you my tasting notes –

Mancino Secco – 18%

Infused with 19 botanicals. Gentle aromas of sage and lemon on the nose. Soft, a little dry and hints of the Trebbiano di Romagna wine. On the palate, light, a little bold with a sour flavour that is slowly balanced out. Crisper on the finish, with a slight heat of spice on the end.

Mancino Bianco Ambrato – 16%

Infused with 37 botanicals. A fresh yet dry aroma of elderflower and chamomile on the nose. Instant sweetness on the palate creating a thick texture. Orange flavours are present, with a sharp grapefruit finish that lingers. A dry ending.

Mancino Rosso Amaranto – 16%

Infused with 38 botanicals, 10 of which are used for Amaro. Plenty of rhubarb on the nose, with softer aromas of vanilla and juniper coming through slowly. Soft on the palate, with plenty of subtle sweetness. Hints of iodine, but balance out with spices to create a dry finish.

An absolute stunning range, with a hard to place for a personal favourite. They’re, to me, just not what you expect a vermouth to be like. I’ve much admiration for other brands, but can find it hard to enjoy a couple on their own. These though, worthy of my full attention. If a tipple in a glass is not your fancy, maybe ask your bartender for one of these –

Vintage Negroni

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

30 ml Gin
20 ml Campari
50 ml Mancino Rosso Amaranto
2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Method –

Stir with ice and strain on the rocks in a rock glass. Garnish with a wedge of orange and grapefruit twist.

or perhaps

Vesper

Glass – 

Coupet

Ingredients – 

40 ml Gin
20 ml Vodka
30 ml Mancino Vermouth Bianco Ambrato
2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters

Method –

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupet. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two classics to be enjoyed at home or in your favourite bar. If you have it at home though, you could say it’s your own nod to Giancarlo’s inspiration. His vermouth takes its hat off to his home town of Pignola in Southern Italy. The main square, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, is where Giancarlo and his friends played football as children.
Oh, and if you’re lucky, there’s also the rare Mancino Vecchio. This vermouth is a variation of the Rosso Amaranto, but has been rested in a single Italian oak barrel for one year making it the first barrel aged, sweet vermouth! With only 800 bottles for the year 2013-2014 across the globe, this vermouth is only available in limited supply!

Seek and enjoy.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Love Drinks Launches Barrel Aged Mancino Vecchio Vermouth

Vecchio

Love Drinks is delighted to announce the arrival of the rare Mancino Vecchio Vermouth to the UK. The Mancino Vermouths are blended with the finest ingredients to make original, yet classic, recipes created by world renowned Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino. The Vecchio adds to the core range, which includes Bianco, Secco and Rosso Vermouth styles.

Mancino Rosso Amaranto Barricato Vecchio Vermouth starts its life as the Mancino Rosso Amaranto. This extraordinary vermouth has been rested in a single Italian oak barrel for one year making it the first barrel aged, sweet vermouth.

Its character has gained the flavours of old wood, and over time, additional spice. It has a developed, richer, nutty and fruitier nose than the unaged version, while keeping essences of cherry, honey, raisins, dark chocolate and vanilla. Not losing its original palate, but expanding in flavour and substance, the Mancino Vecchio will deliver a burst of a deep bitter sweet, oak aged experience.

With only 800 bottles for the year 2013-2014 across the globe, this vermouth is only available in limited supply.

Mancino Vecchio Vermouth is now available to buy through Coe vintners 750ml, 16% abv, priced at £104.00, Ex VAT.

Love Drinks Launch Mancino Vermouth In The UK

Mancino

Love Drinks is delighted to announce the arrival of the Mancino (pronounced man-chino) range of Vermouths to its portfolio. The Mancino Vermouths are blended with the finest ingredients to make original, yet classic, recipes created by world renowned Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino.

These recipes are made from a selection of up to forty botanicals personally selected by Giancarlo over four years of research. The botanicals are ground in a traditional mill that has been in use since the 1930’s then the extracts are steeped in sugar beet spirit before being added to a Trebbiano di Romagna wine base. After a week long filtration process, the liquid spends six months resting until the Vermouth is ready for bottling in small batches.

In 2011 Giancarlo started the steeping process in a small family run establishment in Piedmont, Northern Italy. The distillery is considered the birthplace of many exquisite wines and vermouths and has been in operation since 1957. There are three core Vermouths in the range, a Secco, Bianco Ambrato, the Rosso Amaranto, and rumour has it there’s a Vecchio (aged for 1 year) vermouth soon to be available in very small quantities.

The Secco is infused with 19 botanicals and looks clear, pale yellow with a hint of green. Breezy, clear and super dry it’s perfect for dry Martini.

Infused with 37 botanicals the Bianco Ambrato has an amber hue, ideal for a Vesper or on the rocks with a wedge of orange.

The Rosso Amaranto is made with 38 botanicals and is a dark Imperial Amaranth red. Perfect for a Negroni or sweet Manhattan.

Mancino vermouths are now available to buy through Coe Vintners 750ml priced as follows:

Mancino Secco 18% abv  £16.45 & vat

Mancino Bianco 16% abv  £17.17 & vat

Mancino Rosso 16% abv  £17.17 & vat

Cinzano Tasting Notes

Cinzano

Over the years I have featured Cinzano on many a back bar, but it’s only recently that I have decided to really look into the brand and why it is something I keep listing.

Cinzano dates back to 1757 and the Turin herbal shop of two brothers, Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano. On the 6th June of that year, they were awarded the title of Master Distillers after combining their secret aromatic wines with local herbs, spices and wines.

They created a new ‘vermouth rosso’ (red vermouth) using Italian red wine, sugar and alcohol infused with aromatic plants from the Italian Alps in a still-secret recipe combining 35 ingredients. What became known as the “vermouth of Turin” proved popular with the bourgeoisie of Turin and, later, Casanova. Cinzano Bianco followed, based on a different combination of Italian white wine with herbs that included artemisia (wormwood), cinnamon, cloves, citrus and gentian; it was followed by an Extra Dry version.

With a growing reputation, the Savoy monarchs came forward and asked them to design a wine to rival the French Champagnes. In 1840, Italy had its first ever sparkling wine. Cinzano are also credited in having one of the first advertising campaigns back in 1887, being printed within the Il Telegrafo in the city of Leghorn. 1925 saw the first design of the now recognisable logo of blue and red, said to symbolise nobility, tradition and depth of the Mediterranean. Exports began in the 1890’s, to Argentina, Brazil and the USA, among others, whilst in Paris in 1912, Cinzano was the first product to be advertised with a neon sign.

The phrase ‘chin chin’ also originated from a Cinzano advertising campaign (one of 230 between 1957 and 1980), where Rita Pavone starred with the jingle ‘Cin cin Cinzoda  / una voglia da morir. . . . .’ or Cheers cheers Cinzoda / to die for. . . . .’ The family owned business ran until 1985 where they started to sell shares, culminating with an agreement with International Distillers & Vintners (a subsidiary of Grand Metropolitan) to purchase in 1992. Grand Metropolitan became Diageo in 1997 but with sales behind its main rival Martini, 1999 saw Gruppo Campari take the brand on board and lifted its image with collaborations with famous artists, just like they had been doing during its heyday.

So how does the range fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the one’s I have tried so far –

Cinzano Bianco – 15%

Strong on the nose with lots of fresh herbs and a slight aroma of faint aniseed. Fresh and sweet on the palate with herbal and citrus flavours blending nicely.

Cinzano Rosso – 15%

Delicate on the nose with hints of red wine and herbal notes coming through. A little sweet on the palate, with a soft texture that develops a lingering fruit. Shorter finish than expected, with a slight dryness.

These are fantastic served chilled, but have you thought about asking your bartender for one of these? –

Cinzano Cinnamon
Cinzano Cinnamon

Cinzano Cinnamon

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients –

240 ml Cinzano Rosso
1/2 Fresh orange cut into small cubes
1/2 Teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Method – 

Gently muddle the fresh orange and cinnamon in a glass. Add ice and fill with Cinzano Rosso. Stir well and garnish with a stick of cinnamon.

If you’re an adventurous type with your cocktails or drinks, Cinzano is perfect for pushing the boundaries. A Rose, Extra Dry and Orancio are also available to try in many a bar too. It’s always a useful vermouth to have in your drinks cabinet too as it’s a classic within Martini’s and Manhattan’s.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.

Giulio Cocchi Tasting Notes

Cocchi

I love a master class. It gives the chance to try a brand that you may have never have experienced properly, or even knew that they had more than one expression available. It also has the opportunity on the odd occasion to meet some fascinating industry figures, whether it’s a brand ambassador, master distiller or in the followings case, a member of the family that owns the brand.
Epernay are a regular venue for these sort of things, and recently hosted the Italian name of Giulio Cocchi, a specialist in wine, courtesy of Robert Jupp of Speciality Brands.

So who are, or indeed who was, Giulio Cocchi?

Giulio Cocchi founded his business in the north-western Italian town of Asti in 1891. As a young pastry chef, he became fascinated with the pairing of food and found in Asti, the capital of Moscato wines, a natural attitude to blend wines and herbs. Giulio began producing aromatic-infused wines and bottle fermented sparkling wines. By the turn of the century two in particular – Barolo Chinato and Aperitivo Americano – had become very popular, not only throughout Piedmont, but also in the export markets of London, New York, Africa and South America.
Giulio Cocchi is now owned and operated by the Bava Family (of whom member Roberto Bava was present at the masterclass), themselves highly renowned wine producers. Today, the winery still maintains its artisan character using only traditional techniques to craft the wines and add no additives or colorants.

It’s three main expressions here in the UK  include the name that is widely regarded as the original Americano, and has been made continuously since 1891 using only natural ingredients. To aromatise the white wine a secret blend of herbs and spices are added to the Muscato base which is then steeped over a period of time. Only produced in small batches, the bottles are laid down for a year before release. Also, to mark the 120th anniversary of when Giulio Cocchi first made vermouth, the production of Cocchi’s original recipe Vermouth di Torino was resumed in 2011. Vermouth di Torino is one of only two geographically protected AOC vermouths (the other being Chambery). This Storico Vermouth di Torino follows the regional tradition of using fine Moscato wine as its base, which is then infused with a secret recipe of local and exotic botanicals. Once produced, the vermouth is stored in barrel to ensure the blend is fully married.
Finally, Barolo Chinato is a fortified wine which was traditionally drunk for medicinal purposes to guard against fevers and stomach upsets, but also gifted as a sign of hospitality. Today it is more commonly used as a digestif and is a great way to round off a meal, as well as being unbeatable with chocolate. Cocchi’s Barolo Chinato still follows the traditional recipe: Barolo DOCG wine is infused with the bark of the Calissaja Quinine tree, red china, rhubarb root, gentian and cardamom seeds as well as a secret blend of herbs and spices before being laid down for lengthy maturation in old Barolo casks.

Roberto Brava
Roberto Bava

So how does the Giulio Cocchi range fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes alongside some of the Cocchi sparkling wines –

Cocchi Americano – 16.5%

Slightly bitter on the nose with an aromatic scent of orange wandering. Sweet flavours on the palate with a slight bitterness, but moves into a smooth yet dry finish.

Cocchi Americano Rosa – 16.5%

Sweet and ripe on the nose with a burst of dark fruit. Very sweet on the palate with cherry flavours and bitterness developing. Very long with a slightly dry finish.

Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino – 16%

Liquorice, iodine, vanilla and caramel blend well on the nose and are well-balanced once onto the palate. Bitter sweetness grows but enjoys a fresh finish. Dry at the very end.

Cocchi Barolo Chinato – 16%

Deep rich and aromatic aromas of orange and cherry on the nose, followed by a sweet, long offering of rhubarb, spice and orange with a hint of freshness coming through. 

Brachetto D’Acqui

Ripe on the nose with lots of aromatic scents of rose that lighten near the end. Fresh on the palate with a dry, lingering finish of cherry.

Moscato D’Asti

Light with sweet notes of peach developing a richer aroma. Green apple flavours on the palate that linger and sweeten on a dry finish.

The Cocchi Americano is considered the closest replacement to the now defunct Kina Lillet in a classic cocktail –

Vesper

Glass –

Goblet

Ingredients – 

75 ml Gordon’s Gin
25 ml Polish vodka (Belvedere for example)
12.5 ml Cocchi Americano

Method – 

Shake over ice until well chilled, then strain into a deep goblet and garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.

Many a bar are catching on to the popularity of the Cocchi range, especially with the versatility of each product within cocktails or simple serves such as sparkling wine. A must have for your drinks cabinet, and give your bartender the challenge of the Vesper above and see why it has become such a classic name.

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.

Sacred Tasting Notes

Sacred

Sacred is a name that has been part of the London distillery scene for the past few years, and one feature that takes pride over them all is the fascinating story behind its creation.

Sacred Microdistillery was established in London in 2009 by Ian Hart and Hilary Whitney. Their initial idea of creating gin has now expanded to include flavoured vodkas using their distinct vacuum process. Based within a residential street in Highgate, the knowledge of Ian’s days from studying for his Cambridge Natural Sciences degree shine. Originally though, he was more concerned about re-engineering the vintage wine he’d been collecting, but after taking delivery of some neutral grain spirit and botanicals, the idea of gin creation blossomed.

Ian created something unique, using twelve organically sourced botanicals (including fresh-cut citrus, juniper, cardamom, nutmeg and a type of frankincense called Boswellia sacra) which are each macerated with English wheat grain spirit before being diluted with distilled water and then distilled separately in glassware under vacuum.

Once bottled, Ian initially hand delivered stock to local bars and restaurants in London until popularity meant he had to find help from a local distributor. I say popularity – Sacred was winning awards. Sacred Gin came first in its category in the Ginmasters 2009 competition, Gold in the Micro-distilleries Vodka Masters 2010 by The Spirits Business and placed in the top three alongside Hendrick’s and Tanqueray 10 gins in another blind tasting organised by Imbibe magazine.

I’ve been lucky enough to try Ian’s individual distillates of the botanicals, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Juniper –

Clean nose with only a slight juniper aroma. Surprisingly easy-going on the palate.

Mixed Citrus Blend (orange, lemon and lime) –

Very light on the nose with a smooth, long taste.

Angelica Root –

Very clean on the nose with a slight sweetness, with a palate of creamy potato.

Coriander Seed –

Smooth with a slight citrus and coriander nose, but a slight harshness and very little flavour on the palate.

Green Cardamon Pods –

Slightly harsh on the nose and palate with ony a small flavour.

Licorice Root –

Floral and clean on the nose, with a hint of sweetness on the palate.

Pink Grapefruit –

Subtle aroma with a rather potent attack to the palate.

Orris Root –

Slightly bold on the nose, but a freshness on the palate.

Star Anise –

Slight aniseed that slowly powers through on the palate and nose.

Nutmeg –

A freshness on the nose, following to the palate.

Cassia Bark –

Slight sweetness on the nose, and again on the palate with a hint of harshness near the end.

Of course when you blend the above, you create the following –

Sacred Gin – 40%

Clean, with a very subtle nose of fresh pine and violet. A dry, juniper let flavour on the palate, with a spicy edge that lingers for a long finish.

Sacred also produce –

Spiced English Vermouth – 18%

Created using barks, peels, herbs and spices including organic wormwood from Somerset, organic thyme for the New Forest and English wine from Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire. A strong aroma of herbs and cloves that follows onto the palate and creates a sweetness from orange wormwood and a small amount of lavender.

Sacred Spice Vodka – 40%

A slight spice on the nose with cinnamon coming through. The palate enjoys a lingering spice with nutmeg striking through that mellows a little to create a short but warm ending.

Sacred Rosehip Cup – 18%

A fragrant nose of herbs, rhubarb and dry rosemary.  Rather light and thin on the palate, with a subtle flavour of herbs and rose lingering for a dry finish.

Some of the above botanicals are available to purchase individually, where you can create your own gin at home. Of course, the main bottlings are widely available, as well as in many a bar these days. I’d recommend to drink them on its own, but maybe try one of these –

Sacred Negroni 

Glass –

Rocks

Ingredients –

30 ml Sacred Gin
30 ml Sacred Vermouth
30 ml Campari

Method – 

Combine all ingredients within an ice filled rocks glass and stir.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.