Dolin Vermouths are notably lighter, drier and less pungent than their larger commercial counterparts. The particular mixture of plants found near Chambery give a fresh, restrained and elegant nose, with a subtle, complex bittersweet palate. Even the Blanc and Rouge retain great balance, with the sugar never cloying, and just enough bitterness to whet the appetite. Each can be enjoyed as aperitif on ice, with a twist of citrus, or in a broad array of traditional cocktails.
|Wine maker notes
|Vermouth is a fortified, aromatized wine; the ingredients are wine, herbs and plants, grape spirit and sugar. The practice of aromatizing wine dates back to the Ancient Greeks. This was formerly done to mask poor wine, or as later to add extra complexity to something already good. It also proved to be an effective form of early, homeopathic medicine. Right up until the 20th century, doctors regularly prescribed Vermouths and aromatized liqueurs for all manner of illness, and many people continue to take a glass per day for medicinal reasons. The process chez Dolin begins with purchase of base wine, always white, light in alcohol (10% by volume), and as neutral as possible, both on the nose and palate. To this is added a selection of herbs and plants, which are left to macerate several months. The exact recipes are a closely guarded secret, but there are up to 54 different plants used, most notably wormwood, but also hyssop, camomile, genepi, chincona bark and rose petals. The aromatized wine is then lightly sugared, to less than 30 g/l for the Dry and 130 g/l for the Blanc and Rouge. The color of the Rouge does not come from red base wine, which is unsuitable for elegant Vermouth, and instead comes from the particular plants used, and from sweetening with dark, caramelized sugar. Finally, the Vermouths are fortified - up to 16° for the sweeter styles, and 17.5° for the Dry. Chamberyzette is made with the addition of a juice of wild strawberries from the Alps and fortified to 16° alcohol.
|Dolin produces their Vermouth in Chambery itself. Once the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, this bustling mountain town is now the commercial center of the French Alps. In addition to the Vermouth, Dolin is as well known today for their Genepi liqueur (made from a famed botanical of the Grand Chartreuse range) which is a longstanding tradition of the alpine resorts of the region.
|Inspired by the great wines of Right Bank Bordeaux, Virage sources from cooler climate Napa Valley, revealing the beautiful, layered nuance and supple texture of optimally ripened cabernet franc and merlot, blended for elegance and balance.
Bordeaux Blending Tradition
Many Napa Valley wines are produced from grape varieties first grown in Bordeaux, where all red wines are blends of (up to) five closely-related grape varieties. At a Bordeaux estate, different varieties are planted by soils and climate to support optimal character expression in the finished wines and then blended for perfect balance each vintage. The full Bordeaux region is divided by the river running through it; on the river’s ”left bank” to the south, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the blends. On the ”right bank,” the northernmost chateaux favor merlot and cabernet franc. These memorable right bank wines are known for their finesse, complexity and ageability. Celebrated properties include Chateau Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion, planted to Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and Petrus, in Pomerol, an example of a top Bordeaux from 100% merlot.
We blend in the Right Bank tradition, sourcing from cabernet franc and merlot grown in northeastern Carneros at Beau Terroir and Hyde Vineyards. In a uniquely protected, warmer pocket of the coolest growing region of Napa Valley, the cool-climate Bordeaux varieties enjoy not only lower daytime temperatures, but also warmer nights with proximity to the San Pablo Bay. These temperate slopes provide ideal conditions for harvesting at optimal phenolic ripeness while maintaining fresh acidity and brightness, while expressing fully ripe flavors--all at moderate alcohol levels. A slow, gentle maturation of aromatics, skins and seeds creates complex, supple wines presenting the layered flavors and generous aromatics of ripe cabernet franc, rounded out with richly-structured merlot. Our particular soils, more commonly found higher on Mt. Veeder, produce a lovely thread of minerality in all the Virage wines.
Napa Valley’s exceptional geologic diversity offers an extraordinary place to practice the art of blending in the Bordeaux tradition. With its 33 soil series (compared to four in all winemaking regions of France), Napa Valley winemakers are immersed in opportunity for unique expression of Bordeaux varietals. From our cooler corner, we hope Virage recalls the character of a fine blend from St. Emilion.