Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth (1 Liter)
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes grow in every region throughout Italy—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean.
Italian Wine Regions
Naturally, most Italian wine regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate and a notable coastline, if not coastline on all borders, as is the case with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Alps in the northern regions of Valle d'Aosta, Lombardy and Alto Adige create favorable conditions for cool-climate grape varieties. The Apennine Mountains, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south, affect climate, grape variety and harvest periods throughout. Considering the variable terrain and conditions, it is still safe to say that most high quality viticulture in Italy takes place on picturesque hillsides.
Italian Grape Varieties
Italy boasts more indigenous grape varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most Italian wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but are declining in popularity, especially as younger growers take interest in reviving local varieties. Most important are Sangiovese, reaching its greatest potential in Tuscany, as well as Nebbiolo, the prized grape of Piedmont, producing single varietal, age-worthy Piedmontese wines. Other important varieties include Corvina, Montepulciano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course the white wines, Trebbiano, Verdicchio and Garganega. The list goes on.
Historically a dry, herb-infused, and sometimes pleasantly bitter fine wine, the ancient Greeks and Romans valued it for its great medicinal properties. They especially favored the addition of Artemisia absinthium, or wormwood, which they believed to have significant gastric curative properties. In the 16th century, a Bavarian medicinal wine flavored with wormwood called wermuth became popular in the French bourgeois circles. They called it vermutwein—soon becoming simply known in English as, vermouth.
Today vermouth isn’t regarded so much as a medicinal product but its variations are indispensable to any modern mixologist. The actual concept of modern, large-scale vermouth production started with the Piemontese in the 18th century where proximity to the Alps facilitated a great supply of desired herbs. Brands such as Cinzano, Martini, and then the French, Noilly Prat, led the way to the modern cocktail age.
Typically vermouths are Italian if red and sweet and French if golden and drier in character. The Italian Carpano shows deep flavors like cocoa, almond, marmalade, toffee, mint and bitter herbs while Contratto is sweet and more straightforward. Today France produces a delicately spiced vermouth called Chambéry from Savoie and Lillet of Bordeaux, owned by Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou in St. Julien, is made from Sauvignon blanc and Semillon.