Endangered species worth hunting to extinction.
Note: Noilly Prat is one of the flagship brands of vermouth (founded in 1813), especially for Martinis, and one of the few French brands available (Boissiere used to be French but is now made and bottled in Italy and significantly different in taste from what it used to be). Noilly also has the distinction of being one of the very few (if not the only) vermouth that is significantly aged.
The two varieties of wine used – picpoul and clairette (both from the Languedoc region of France) are aged separately in large 100 year-old plus Canadian oak casks to mellow for one year. (Between the age and type of wood the impact on color is minimal compared to other aging techniques).The two varieties are then separately transferred to smaller wooden casks exposed to the elements, for a further year to simulate a long sea voyage. They are then taken indoors to mellow in a cellar for a further 6 months.
After this they are finally blended together and herbs are macerated in the wine for 3 weeks with a daily stirring by hand. After filtration, the vermouth is allowed to rest for an additional 6 weeks before bottling. This particular expression has been imported to the United States only since 1978, but is much loved by it’s devotees.
Noilly is now also importing its European version to the United States much to the consternation of many and I comment on their actions here.
Other versions of Noilly Vermouth include the Sweet and an Ambre which is only available if you visit their winery in Marsellan.
Appearance: Liquid silver/clear with just a touch of yellow/green to it. Legs and droplets form on swirling.
First Impression: Dry herbs, pastis/licorice, rosemary, fennel, star anise, vanilla, orange, angelica, orris root, aromatic herbs.
Taste: Understated wormwood bitter, finish is long with anise, fennel, angelica, wood and spice aromatics. Slightly astringent finish at the end.
Drinks: The vermouth for minimalists/purist choice to make a proper gin martini. Also good for a number of other drinks- that being said you may wish to use the new version if you are seeking more flavor.
Other: Vermouth is an aromatized wine, and as such it will spoil. Buy a 375 ml (1/2 bottle) unless you use it a lot. Refrigerate after opening and get a new bottle after 2 months or so- you and your guests will appreciate the difference!
Bottle: Very dark green glass with a simple but tasteful label in an almost Napoleanic fashion. Dark color and thickness of glass protect the contents from sunlight.
Final Thoughts: Long considered the gold standard among martini drinkers. It’s clean minamilist style is well suited to the Silver Bullet.This version may soon become extinct, so buy it while you can!
A very well done quick-loading web page with a lots of information about their vermouth and its production.