An alcoholic beverage that’s delicious and also good for you? Yes please!
To state the obvious, you can’t have a Martini without is sister, Vermouth.
Having started its life in the 19th Century (or earlier) Vermouth was intended as a healthy pick me up full of herbs and spirits making use of wine not always suitable for premium wine production.
Waste not, want not.
In the past few years several Australian producers have complimented the surge in craft spirits production with Vermouth of quite distinctive house styles that offer happy possibilities for your cocktail hour.
Traditionally you drink vermouth neat, or on ice, perhaps with a twist of something as an aperitif or to pass the time usefully in the afternoon before it was Martini o-clock in some European cafe.
I’ve outlined the basics of vermouth in a previous posthere and what is important to know that its a mix of a base wine, herbs and some fortifying spirit. It will go off eventually once opened after a couple of months generally speaking, and its recommended to keep it in the fridge once unsealed to extend its life.
In the case of the Causes and Cures, Winemaker Steve Flamsteed at Giant Steps winery in the Yarra Valley, uses biodynamically grown hand-picked grapes.
They undergo a wild ferment and are blended with the botanicals and base spirit.
Both the The Semi Sweet Red Vermouth and Semi Dry White Vermouth include Wormwood, Curacao, Gentian and Quinquina as their botanicals and lands at 17% ABV for the white, and 18% ABV for the red. The white version used Viognier grapes, and Sangiovese for the red as the base wine.
The Semi Sweet Red version on the nose retains it Sangiovese nose, with a bright ruby colour and is slightly herbaceous. Its not very sweet, quite subtle actually, light on the palette, slightly dry finish.
Although not really destined for a Martini I thought I’d try it, and on reflection its best to sip it by itself on ice, or make yourself a lovely light Negroni with a dash of Campari, an Aussie gin and a slice of orange over ice.
The white version I became quite smitten with.
Its like summer in a glass. On the nose its a lovely honeycomb aroma (reminded me of a ripe Marsanne wine actually).
It is fuller on the palette than its sister, with a dry finish and you get a hint of citrus, a note of light bitterness at the end, very nicely integrated. It is not floral or spicy like Noilly Prat and is more akin to Dolin perhaps in weight + intensity of flavours.
This makes a terrific Martini. If you like yours not so astringent, then this is ideal. You don’t need a dash of Orange Bitters and the semi sweetness rounds out of the cocktail and definitely doesn’t dominate several of the gins I tried. I used about 5ml to 10ml to be safe in the 60ml cocktail and that was plenty. Less is more.