United States of Vermouth - Rockwell Vermouth Co. American Flavor Classic Sweet
BTL - 5757
Origin: Geyserville, California, USA
Producer: Rockwell Vermouth Co.
Wine Base: N/A
Known Botanicals: Artemisia californica
Look – Very transparent light hued rose madder with chestnut overtones.
Nose – Sweet apple with balsam notes. Very light vanilla
Mouth – Sweet candy orange and dried fig at beginning of taste, which drops mid to late taste into a light oakiness with a bare hint of bitter and lingering vanillin finish
The figgy sweetness is the dominant taste of Rockwell American Flavor Classic Sweet Vermouth. It’s nice. It mixes well with rye-based Manhattans, giving a lifting sugariness and depth to the lightness and slight astringency of American rye whiskey. Though I’m all in favor of using native Artemisias to give terrior and localness to vermouths, whether Artemisia californica is just not that bitter or the vermouth makers are just a bit too judicious in crafting this product, it barely registers. As to the California black mission figs they use, I must admit, they're pretty yummy – in that desserty sort of way.
The man behind Rockwell is Birk O’Halloran, a fairly new player on the California scene, who’s been making the usual California stalwarts, Merlot, Cabernet, and Chardonnay under his Iconic Wine line. His forays into vermouth production are commendable, if not exactly my cup of tea. I prefer a bit of a spicier profile, a bigger bitterness, and a little less sugar. But that’s just me. I find his Classic Sweet very enjoyable, even if it doesn’t exactly fit my favorite style of aromatized wine. It actually has enough acidic brightness in the base wine to cut some of the sugar. It’s lingering aftertaste invites further sippage. And it fits a certain profile I see in the best of new American vermouths, a certain lightness in body and texture, a certain playfulness, and most certainly, a certain amount of rule-breaking. It’s a brave new world in the New World. Let there be more new vermouths that speak to the many landscape of the Americas, traditions new and old, and trying out new things.
Scale 1 - 5
Wood / Vanilla 2
Bitter - 1
Astringent (barks, roots) 1
Vegetal / Herbal 0