Ten top vermouths to try

Vermouth is having a moment as adventurous local winemakers embrace the botanicals. Here are 10 of our top picks. 

Related: Four ways wiith Negronis

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

1. NUOVO ITALIANO

Oscar.697 Extra Dry, Piedmont, Italy, $50

An excellent example of the new wave of Italian producers reimagining the flavours of vermouth and their drinks packaging. This is beautifully dry vermouth, with pungent herbal aromas and subtle, oaky, savoury notes. Imported by vanguardluxurybrands.com.au

2. THE ORIGINAL

Carpano Antica Formula, Piedmont, Italy, $70

This is recognised as the first commercial vermouth, developed in Turin in 1786, and based on an "antique formula". It's tawny in colour, extremely complex and spicy to smell, and beautifully herbal, savoury and medicinal on the tongue. Imported by arquilla-wine.com

3. FLOWERY KIWI

Mt Edward Vermouth, Central Otago, $55

As far as I know, this is the first new-wave vermouth from New Zealand. A wine made from chenin blanc and riesling is infused with wormwood, elderflower and thyme. A lovely, delicate, floral style. Imported by wholebunchwines.com.au

4. AFTERNOON DELIGHT

Yzaguirre Rojo Reserva Vermouth, Catalonia, Spain, $48

My food writer mate Richard Cornish tells me it's a ritual whenever he visits to Spain to drink a small glass of chilled Yzaguirre every afternoon before dinner. I can see why: it's dark, tangy and delicious. Imported by untappedwines.com.au

5. BITTER TONIC

Ravensworth Outlandish Claims, Canberra, ACT, $45

The name and the packaging of this fabulously complex and satisfying drink evoke the medicinal heritage of vermouth - and other wines infused with botanicals. Dark, bitter, rich: it's easy to imagine it doing you some good. ravensworthwines.com.au

6. BIG BOTTLE

Maidenii Unfiltered Dry Vermouth, Central Victoria, $115

The Maidenii crew has been busy, releasing a number of new drinks including La Tonique Quinquina (infused with cinchona bark; $50) and magnums of sensational, slightly cloudy, unfiltered citrusy dry vermouth. maidenii.com.au

7. PRETTY IN PEDRO

Jones Winery Correll, Rutherglen, Victoria, $38

Inspired by winemaker Mandy Jones's time in Bordeaux, learning how that region's famous Lillet aromatised wine is produced, this is a gently sweet, pretty white infused with orange rind, star anise and juniper. Serve chilled over ice. joneswinery.com.au

8. ANCIEN RECIPE

Dolin Rouge Vermouth, Chambéry, France, $28

One of France's oldest vermouth labels, this "rouge" is in fact quite a developed, tawny colour, with spicy, mature aromas of herbs and a pronounced savoury taste. "Extensive testing" shows it makes a cracking Negroni. Imported by cerbaco.com.au

9. SUPER BITTER

Marcarini Chinato, Piedmont, Italy, $50

Chinato is an aromatised wine from Piedmont in Italy, and Marcarini is one of the best producers. Fine Barolo is infused with botanicals such as cinchona bark and gentian: a small glass makes the perfect post-prandial digestif. Imported by trembathandtaylor.com.au

10. A LITTLE BITTER

2016 Turkey Flat Quinquina, Barossa Valley, South Australia, $40

This aromatised wine is made from marsanne, infused with cinchona bark and botanicals including orange rind, lychee and green tea. Intense and sweet - best served as an apéritif, with soda and ice. turkeyflat.com.au


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