United States of Vermouth - Mastrogiannis Vermouth
Producer: Mastrogiannis Distillery
Wine Base: Syrah Rose
Known Botanicals: Mission and golden figs, wormwood, cocoa nbs, vanilla bean, cinnamon, wild cherry bark
Sugar: Sweetened with honey
Look – Clear, pale rose madder with slight golden hints.
Nose – Cinnamon, dried fig, light strawberry overtones
Mouth – Rich texture with big mouthfeel. Figgy and honeyed sweetness that build brightly early on, followed by a quick, slightly hot, alcohol crescendo, dropping to light chocolately bitterness and a long mellow end.
I love this vermouth, though it is really unlike any traditional vermouth (of which there are many that I also love). This to me is of the essence of whatever New Wave of vermouth-making is up to – redefining taste profiles, developing new approaches, and keeping the world of aromatized wines (oh, how I hate that term!) vibrant, innovative, and exciting. If I have any critique - the particular fragrant and fruity bitterness that wormwood imparts lies a bit far beneath the rest of the smartly orchestrated flavor profile. But it’s a quibble. The flavor profile of a maker’s mix is ultimately subjective. The maker brings you into his/her world. And I’m feeling very welcomed. This is contemporary vermouth-making at its best.
Ilias Mastrogiannis runs a distillery and winery out of a small warehouse space in Lakewood, Washington. His specialty is crafting traditional Greek spirits, brandy, ouzo, tsipori (grappa), rakomelo. He also makes a rose and is currently about to release his first red wine, a 100% Mourvedre. Apart from his craftsmanship and ability to deliver quality wine, spirits and vermouth, he mentions the influence of his father, Constantine Mastrogiannis, who was a mason turned winemaker. This man would inspire Ilias with the idea of meraki – a word hard to define in English, but carrying the idea of the soul, creativity and love one puts into tasks and endeavors. Fulfilling his father’s legacy and creating his own, Ilias Mastrogiannias is one of the best vermouth-makers in the USA right now.
Note – Ilias also hosts a very interesting and informative podcast, Distillery Nation, where he talks issues and shop with many a distiller involved with independent micro distilleries.
Wood / Vanilla 2
Bitter - 2
Astringent (barks, roots) 1
Vegetal / Herbal 0