Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vermouth Perucchi

We've been meaning to get Josh and Lynn over for dinner for almost a year. A little before Christmas, we went into their shop and, with some iPhone calendar wrangling, got it done. I'm afraid I've forgotten the details of that dinner (three weeks ago—man, that's ancient history), but there was no forgetting one of the bottles Josh brought by.

As best I can tell, Augustus Perucchi went into the vermouth business in Barcelona in 1876. He claims to be the very first Spanish vermouth producer. Vermouth Perucchi is made from best-quality white wine with more than 50 different botanicals that have been macerated, ground, infused, pressed, and filtered, then aged in century-old oak foudres. It is unlike any bianco vermouth I've ever tasted, with prominent aromas of cinnamon, orange, lemon, ginger, and a very high, almost medicinal, mint note. In the mouth, the texture was luxurious; there is some mid-palate sweetness that fades on the finish.

A few days later, we made a negroni with it. The cinnamon note really came to the fore against the bitterness of the gin and Campari; and the color was an amusing girly-girl pink. We found it pleasant, but a bit too sweet for our liking. We also tried it straight next to our long-time favorite, Andrew Quady's Vya Extra Dry vermouth. I've always thought of the Quady as a bit rich compared to the usual run of white vermouths, but next to the Perucchi it seemed positively astringent. There will be further experiments, to be sure. Josh called it “naughty” and I think that's just about right. It seems a little too easy to drink—a notion I intend to check out when the weather warms up. Sitting on the porch with a glass of this mixed with tonic over ice? It says “yes” to me. Vermouth Perucchi is available in Asheville at Josh's store; it's $20/liter.

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