Yes, this is indeed a Vermouth gracing our wine portfolio! Bèrto comes from a family-owned distillery that specializes in small-batch traditional Piemontese Vermouths. On plots of land high in the Alps, the family grows organic aromatic herbs and spices (absinthe, gentian, rhubarb, and many more), which are gently infused into a neutral spirit and then blended with a local white wine. A splash of Barbera d’Asti accounts for the rosso’s deep color. It is highly aromatic, slightly sweet, and pleasantly bitter on the finish—perfect in a spritz with some Prosecco or served ice-cold with a twist of orange alongside chocolate-based desserts. Deeply refreshing and surprisingly complex, it has even been known to convert ardent wine drinkers such as myself.
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 nine 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.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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