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Dolin Vermouth


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Ledroit Brands, having been prodded mercilessly by DR.com's own Derek Brown, is taking its first shipment (limited by the size of my Toyota Corolla) of Dolin vermouth. This independent producer makes traditional dry and sweet varieties, plus a "blanc" vermouth, which is white, but off-dry, perfect for drinking by itself or in a Brooklyn cocktail. Dolin vermouth will be available soon at the Gibson and Bar Pilar, amongst other places, plus a certain New Mexico Avenue retailer. Stealing from Derek's press release, here is some more information:

I love Noilly Pratt but we need options, you know? Finally, those prayers have been answered by Mr. Eric Seed--the man who has brought us Creme de Violette, Allspice Dram and a bevy of other specialized cocktail ingredients.

Dolin is the last independent company still producing Vermouth de Chambery. The others have all been swallowed by large international concerns, often more interested in quantity and 'branding' than in intrinsic quality. Fortunately, Dolin continue to make the authentic product, according to the principles which earned Chambery France's only A.C. for Vermouth back in 1932. This means production in Chambery itself, maceration of real plants rather than pre-prepared infusions, and the unique addition of sugar as opposed to other sweetening products. The finished Vermouth contains 75-80% wine, much more than most industrial aromatised 'wines'.

The practice of aromatizing wine dates back to the Ancient Greeks. This was done to mask poor wine, or 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 particular quality of Vermouth de Chambery was first identified, in 1821, by one Joseph Chavasse, whose son-in-law Ferdinand Dolin inherited the recipe, and the now eponymous company. Dolin Vermouth was winning medals in Philadelphia, St Louis and London in the late 19th century, and still remains the benchmark for fine French Vermouth.

According to Chavasse's recipe, the base wine was made from local grapes. However, phylloxera led to replanting in the region with red varieties, or overly aromatic whites such as Jacquère. As with Cognac and Armagnac, the best base wine is very light, and as neutral as possible. From 1920 onwards, Dolin have sourced their wine elsewhere in France. Not surprisingly, the majority of the base wine now comes from the Armagnac vineyards of the Gers. On the other hand, the particular flavours and aromas of the plants are of crucial importance, and the Dolin secret recipe continues to be made from the herbs and aromatic plants naturally found in the Alpine meadows above Chambery. These are individual Vermouths of remarkable freshness, purity and complexity.

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