I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again, vermouth is the unsung hero of many a cocktail, especially the Martini. Without it, there is no Martini, but usually the bridesmaid, never the bridge compared to the gin or vodka.
However, that’s been changing of late with a new appreciation of this venerable drink (you can read more about its production here) helped by a new wave of labels, and a better understanding of how to appreciate it as a sophisticated drink in its own right.
I first reviewed Causes and Cures a couple of years back and immediately swooned for its Semi Dry White version. Produced in small batches, by Giant Steps Wines in beautiful Healesville, Victoria, and my sample was from the third release by chief winemaker Steve Flamsteed.
One of the arts and pleasures of craft drinks is that each release will be different. Whilst even spirit makers producing 500 bottles or so each distilling run will aim for consistency, there is sometimes variation in each release. So with this release Steve has tweaked the already delicious recipe somewhat.
He told me that, ‘I wanted to go a little slower this time, push everything a little further, turn a few of the aromatics up to eleven… and take it in a slight different direction.
Based on Viognier wine that has spent 18 months on old old, he’s added dried Seville orange, along with lemon (plus wormwood of course, else it wouldn’t be vermouth) plus some juniper, curaçao, gentian flower, saffron and orris root amongst others.
Before it was bottled has been settled in cold storage to settle any residue. Apparently it was bottled on a full moon, which from experience, always lends a little something to any occasion!
I’ve been living with this bottle for a couple of months now and made sure I keep mine in the fridge. Vermouth doesn’t last forever folks, you can get a couple of months out of an open bottle as long as its kept chilled.
At a recent Martini Masterclass I introduced to it my group and they loved its generous approachable flavours and I’ve mixed it with a range of gins and vodkas for my Martinis.
One point, a little goes a long way here, the flavour profile is very generous.
- Nose: intense spiced orange along the lines of a great Christmas pudding with the Seville oranges making themselves known
- Palette: a balance between pronounced (but not unpleasant) bitter and the same bitter orange and clove notes from the nose. Very lingering on the forward palette. It feels much less fruit and sweetness driven than the first release I reviewed and it lands closer to the classic aperitif style of Vermouth.
- In a Martini: Again, less is more here. There are two approaches in a classic Martini, you can either rinse the chilled glass with the Vermouth and pour it off (don’t waste it though!) . This trick can be used to soften the cocktail and lend a banknote of citrus (in the same way you might orange bitters) to the Martini, great with a classic London Dry style gin.
- Alternately you can switch out your regular vermouth for this, and I’d use about half of what you’d normally would. I once mixed a ‘Perfect Martini’ which is 50/50 Vermouth and Gin and it came out a pronounced yellow tint, tasted delicious but the colour was a touch disconcerting!
The Take Home
On their website they have a range of recipes including a White Negroni which would definitely work a treat with this, or just in the classic style on ice with a slice of orange and your world is definitely a better place, a taste of summer in your glass.
This is a very accomplished and unique product in the range of vermouth’s available, and a thoughtful evolution on the original recipe that suits the current vogue for a grown-ups aperitif. Highly recommended, 4 stars.
- Purchase direct from the makers and select retailers.
- Price: limited batch 500ml bottle $25.00 plus postage etc
- Follow them via twitter here
- Giant Steps Winery can be liked via facebook here
- 18% ABV
Disclaimer: This review was of an unsolicited product courtesy of Causes + Cures. Views are my own.