A mesmerizing mix of Trebbiano, Chardonnay, wormwood, dittany, marjoram, ginger, lemon, cardamom, tarragon, and lavender, the Vermouth Extra Secco from Bèrto smells and tastes like walking through a pine forest right by the ocean on a summer day. You’re going to bring your martini game to a whole ’nother level with this dry Piedmontese Vermouth.
Founded in 1890, the distillery of Castelnuovo Don Bosco was purchased in 1906 by Carlo Quaglia, the great grandfather of the current distillery director. A succession of fathers passing the traditional knowledge of distillation and vermouth production to their sons, and each son adding their own vision brings us to present day. The ambition of the distillery is to preserve traditional liqueurs and vermouths of Piedmont. Brothers Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino introduced us to Carlo Quaglia, who helps them make their Chinato. The Bèrto recipe dates back to the 1930s and was resurrected by the Italian chef Federico Ricatto. His vision was to create Piemontese Vermouth that could stand on its own as an aperitivo or digestivo.
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now twelve Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa