English winery embraces vermouth trend

Keen to make the most of the vermouth boom, English winery Albourne Estate in Sussex has launched an expression featuring 40 botanicals made from mature base wines.

Called ‘40’ in honour of the 40 different botanicals in the blend, the 18% ABV semi-dry vermouth was created by owner Alison Nightingale, who was keen to put an English twist on an Italian classic.

“There is a revival of interest in vermouth – it’s a popular ingredient in Negroni, the cocktail of the moment, and we’re starting to see vermouth bars opening in London in a trend that began in New York,” Nightingale said.

“Our mission is to remind people to really appreciate the blend of botanicals by drinking vermouth straight,” she added. Among the botanicals in the blend are: rosemary, thyme, rose petals, chamomile, saffron, cardamom, coffee beans and tea.

Three of the still wines made at Albourne Estate

The vermouth is made from matured Albourne Estate base wines, which are blended with the botanical extract and sugar.

The result, according to Nightingale, is a “complex and elegant” drink that can be enjoyed on its own as an apéritif, with tonic, with sparkling wine or in a cocktail.

“We spent hours blind tasting the vermouth using different botanicals, comparing it with the competition to release a product that can write a new vermouth-era for Sussex, England and beyond,” Nightingale said.

“A lot of people have no idea how to drink vermouth and our job is to show what a delicious and versatile drink it is, which works well with many different types of food, from nuts and salami to strong cheeses like gorgonzola,” she added.

“Recently most of the launches from small drinks producers have been in gin. But vermouth makes much more sense for us as a wine producer as it is wine based, fits well with our range and is delicious to drink,” she says.

Plumpton graduate Nightingale picked her first harvest at the 11 hectare estate near Hurstpierpoint, overlooked by the South Downs, in 2013.

Albourne Estate produces a Bacchus, white Pinot Noir and a barrel fermented Ortega and Chardonnay blend, as well as a blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, sparkling rosé and a flagship fizz made from the three Champagne varieties, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

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