Full bottle on vermouth

12/08/2016 - 13:16

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An aperitif used for medicinal purposes in the early 1500s has been given a 21st century twist with the release of Burch Family Wines' Howard Park Vermouth. 

FLAVOUR IN FAVOUR: A specialist vermouth served with tonic water is on offer at the Flour Factory in Queen Street, Perth. Photo: Attila Csaszar

An aperitif used for medicinal purposes in the early 1500s has been given a 21st century twist with the release of Burch Family Wines' Howard Park Vermouth.

Burch Family Wines director Natalie Burch said the revival of old-style beverages in new forms was the latest trend sweeping across Australia’s liquor scene.

Ms Burch said there was a growing interest in alternative and bespoke beverages, including craft beer, spirits and premium cocktails, with the resurgence of cocktails in particular having increased the availability of tonics, bitters, syrups, traditional aperitifs and vermouth.

“In some ways the motivation to produce new and exciting drinks is now being driven by both consumers and producers,” Ms Burch told Business News.

“We were first approached by several small bar clients in Perth to look into producing a local vermouth for them.”

The Flour Factory is just one of the prominent Perth venues where a commissioned Burch Family Wines' vermouth has already had success, and Ms Burch said it had also been popular at her staff Christmas parties.

“So we thought we would bottle some (vermouth) to sell in our cellar door,” she said.

Senior winemaker Janice McDonald said the bottled version was released to customers just a few weeks ago, a change to the practice of bulk-purchase 30-litre kegs distributed to clientele over the past year.

“We’re at step one of actually getting it in the bottle, getting it out to market and just seeing how well it is accepted,” she said.

“It’s always a work in progress and there are a number of producers across Australia who make a different range of vermouths.”

Hailing from Turin in Italy, the fortified wine flavoured with botanicals was consumed as a health beverage in a centuries-old practice due to the common ingredient wormwood, which was believed to settle the stomach and stimulate appetite.

The bottled version's sauvignon blanc and pinot noir base was infused with 27 herbs and spices, including some items foraged locally.

Ms Burch said producing vermouth was a first for the Margret River region, which has been tied to a limited suite of highly traditional French wine grape varieties with a high level of stylistic similarity for the better part of 50 years.

“Our modern twist comes both from the unique local botanicals and equally from the context of our emergence from the constraints of tradition to make a contribution to a ‘quality drinks’ movement in Australia that is evolving in a very exciting way,” Ms Burch said.

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