Bordiga NV Vermouth Bianco di Torino, Piedmont, Italy [Vermouth]
Bordiga NV Vermouth Bianco di Torino, Piedmont, Italy
This classic vermouth type is based on Piedmontese white wines, including some Moscato, and infused with a wide range of different botanicals, many of them grown in the Occitan Alps near the winery. The flavor of this vermouth is complex and vivid, with an excellent balance of sweetness and bitterness. Some vermouths taste strongly of a single botanical, but the interplay of components here is distinctive and delicious. We drink it with a splash of soda water as an aperitivo, and you should too.
Details for the production of Vermouth Bianco: the base wine is Piedmontese white, both Moscato and non-aromatic, and the alcohol is triple-distilled grain alcohol (completely neutral in flavor, in other words). At least 30 botanical flavorings are used, including exotic plants like nutmeg and coriander, typically Italian plants like fennel seed, typical Piedmontese plants such as absinthe (locally referred to as Erba Bianca, botanically Artemisia Absinthium), and exclusively from the Piedmontese Alps plants such as gentian root (Gentiana Lutea) and gentian flowers (Gentiana Acaulis). These last are collected wild by hand in the mountains, not cultivated, and allowed to dry at altitude (they keep their aromas better this way). The gentian roots are collected in autumn after the flowers have faded, and the gentian flowers are collected in the spring, shortly after the last snows have melted.
The botanical flavorings are macerated in pure grain alcohol that has been distilled three times for purity. They are infused individually, not all together, because different botanicals have different requirements for the best extraction of essential oils. Once all the extractions have been done, the infusions are added to the base wine, and the mixture is left for 10 days before the sugar (Italian or French beet sugar) is added; then that mixture is left for 5-6 days before being cold stabilized. (This process was done in the old days by moving the tanks outside during the snowy Piedmontese winter, but nowadays is done in a refrigerated tank.) After another few days resting the Vermouth is bottled; after another month it’s ready to drink. In other words, this vermouth has a strong local component, and is entirely traditional.
Requirements for authentic Vermouth di Torino:
1. the producer must be ‘historic,’ which is to say must have been operating for at least 50 years (Bordiga has been in continuous operation since 1888)
2. the recipe or the brand must be historic (again, Bordiga Vermouth was first produced at the end of the 19th century)
3. must be produced in an artisanal manner
4. must be produced in Piedmont
5. must be based on wine, and have an alcohol content of at least 16°, and must use the botanical flavorings typical of the area.Bordiga is different from many of the Vermouth labels sold now because they produce the vermouth themselves, they don’t buy it from a producer, and they’ve been producing quality Vermouth for over a hundred years. The winery says ‘Bordiga is a producer, not a label,’ and ‘Tradition is our present, and our future.’
Bottle Club Notes, January 2021:
When you spend your life operating one of Turin’s most famous bars, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you need to build a great cocktail. This is what Pietro Bordiga had in mind when he decided to establish Distillery Bordiga near Italy’s mountainous northwestern border in the late nineteenth century. With his intimate knowledge of the area’s native botanicals, essential oils and wild plants, Pietro sought to create a line of vermouths and amari that were closely reflective of the local Occitan Alps’ flora and fauna. Today, Bordiga products are easily some of SF bartenders’ favorite go-to’s when building low-ABV cocktails that pack elegance and complexity.
What is vermouth? Vermouth is an 'aromatized wine’— wine that has been infused with herbs and blended with a proportion of neutral spirit. The word ‘vermouth’ is a corruption of the German wermut, for the bitter herb wormwood which is still part of the botanical base of vermouth. The original classic areas for the production of vermouth were in Chambéry in France, and in Piedmont, south of Turin, both part of the historic Duchy of Savoy.
This Bianco di Bordiga has a touch of sweetness to it, making it great for mixing into a cocktail or splashing in with some soda and a citrus peel. The base is made from a blend of Moscato and other local white grapes. Over 30 different botanicals are hand-harvested from local mountains during their peak growing seasons, then dried or preserved to use during the distillation process. The botanicals are infused individually into the triple-distilled spirit, not all together, because different botanicals have different requirements for the best extraction of essential oils. When the extractions are finished, the infusions are added to the base wine and the mixture is left for 10 days before the sugar (Italian or French beet sugar) is dosed, then left for 5-6 days before being cold stabilized (this process was originally done by moving the tanks outside during the snowy Piedmontese winter, but now done in a refrigerated tank). After another few days of resting, the Vermouth is bottled; after another month it’s ready to drink.
It’s a time-consuming and laborious process that generates one of the world’s best Vermouths!