The Mulassano Bianco Vermouth is lush and complex with notes of funky Riesling, petrol, tropical fruit, thyme and dried apricot with a rich spice-driven finish.
Amilcare Mulassano opened his historic bottle shop in the mid-'800 and in 1907 moved to Piazza Castello in the heart of the city, founding the Caffè Mulassano, a meeting place for artists, politicians and writers of Turin at the beginning of '900. Its history crosses that of the owner of another historic café in the Savoy city, Pietro Bordiga: it is from their meeting that the Mulassano Vermouth is born.
The Cavalier Pietro Bordiga had just founded the homonymous distillery in Cuneo, producer of mountain liqueurs and vermouth when he met Amilcare Mulassano for which he studied an original recipe that has undergone very few variations over the years. The ingredients are always the same, processed with the same care and professionalism of the past, only the proportions of the infusions have been adapted in recent years to make this vermouth suitable for mixology as well as enjoying on its own.
For the production of Vermouth Mulassano only high quality raw materials are used, the alpine botanicals are still harvested by hand by the mountaineers and conferred by the same in Bordiga, the production involves an ancient and traditional process that contemplates no less than about 40-45 days before bottling. After bottling the product is left to rest again in the cellar at a constant temperature of about 10 degrees for at least 15-20 days before being ready for consumption. The filtering takes place exclusively with natural processes and with the use of natural paper filters.
The jewel of Torino is now available globally for the first time in history.
For this look at Italian dessert wine, we will omit sweet sparkling options like Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante, which are covered in our discussion of Italian sparkling wine. We will also pass on sweet Vermouth and Barolo Chinato, both of which more typically serve as an aperitif or an ingredient in various cocktails. The country in fact produces hundreds of different sweet wines, but we will limit our focus to the following three classics.
One of the best-known Italian dessert wines is Vin Santo (“holy water”), produced in many parts of Italy but most widely in Tuscany, where it is commonly enjoyed after a meal with a type of biscotti called cantucci. Vin Santo is a passito wine, meaning it is made from grapes that have been dried for several months before fermentation, which can last for years. Typically, a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia, Vin Santo can be made in dry or off-dry styles. But the best known versions are rich, complex and sweet, offering delectable notes of caramel, hazelnut, honey and dried apricot. Fortified examples do exist, but the finest are not fortified, coming in at 13%-14% alcohol.
Another passito Italian dessert wine option is Passito di Pantelleria, from the island of the same name. This of course is made in a similar manner as Vin Santo, although the passito juice is blended with fresh juice just before fermentation. But here the grape is Zibibbo, also known as Muscat of Alexandria. Beautifully aromatic as well as bursting with jammy flavors of figs, dates and apricots, this is lusciously sweet, and also about 14% alcohol.
Finally, we have to mention the fortified Italian dessert wine, Marsala. While commonly thought of today as a cheap cooking wine, Marsala at its best is remarkable. It is made from a variety of indigenous grapes grown near the Sicilian port city of Marsala and can be dry, semi-sweet or very sweet. The color also varies, with the three types being golden, amber and ruby – the latter actually quite rare. Another key variable is the amount of barrel aging, ranging from one year to ten. Production methods can also vary, but the most impressive types are made via a fractional blending process that is similar to the Sherry solera system. These Marsalas, especially those with five or more years in wood, offer tremendous richness and complexity to rival that of fine tawny Ports and oloroso Sherries.