“Vermouth, of every aperitif is the king.” Starting from that famous verdict of excellent quality, popularity and market demand of that Italian nectar skyrocketing, today all produce one and the prestige of the name tends to fall on similar types. Today I would like to focus my attention on those families of vermouth the so-called “Americans”, who for a certain period of time, have fallen into oblivion and who today, thanks to names like Lefty, Cocchi, Gancia, are recovering altitude in an increasingly demanding market and Curious to rediscover products made in Italy synonymous with craftsmanship and quality.
It is curious to read the description reported by Arnaldo Strucchi in his 1907 monograph “The Vermouth of Turin” where he dedicates a page on the American where he defines it as: vermouth to bitter or American. It is said American, because in the United States one has the custom of drinking the vermouth mixed with bitter liqueurs and gin (cohiskey) forming a drink called “cocktail”. Many and different among them can be these preparations, depending on the Bitter liquor that is used, having this liqueur countless qualities and with different flavors, with moreover in all a base of bitter.
The amaricate wines of Piedmontese tradition also defined “Vin Americà”. History teaches us that in popular culture nothing is wasted and men have always maximized the raw materials they had at their disposal. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the American born in Piedmont, home of our great Moscato that for this type of vermouth is vinified dry, flavored with an infusion of hydro alcoholic herbs and roots, with the peculiarity of the addition of the rind of citrus fruit. The cornerstone that distinguishes it from vermouth is the presence of Gentian a “Must” to be called American, completed with the bitter orange peel important for the aromatic release of this vermouth. There is also a labile presence of wormwood but it is minimal compared to vermouth, therefore no indication of this fortified wine is shown on the label.
As I said before in the American is indispensable the presence of gentian, rare plant and not only for its undeniable beauty, very protected, because otherwise would risk extinction. We are talking about the gentian, a flowering species belonging to the family of Genzianaceae. Of this plant we know about 400 different varieties, with sizes and colors of the flowers totally different from each other. The gentian is widespread throughout the world, appreciated both as an ornamental plant and as an officinal plant. Widespread in Italy, where it grows on areas at altitudes between 700 and 1200 on sea level is a predominantly alpine or mountain species.
The plant has a stem that varies from thirty centimeters per metre and a half (depends on the variety). The flower has colors ranging from white, to yellow, to pink, to blue, to red.
Generally, the Gentian (Gentiana lutea), known as the Yellow Gentian, is used in liqueur. The bitter principles contained in it are useful to balance and stimulate gastric secretion, improving digestive activity. The roots of Gentian yellow, thanks to the presence of mucilage, essential oils and alkaloids, have not only strong digestive properties, but also diuretics, toning, antibiotic and carminative. The Gentian yellow is the most used in Pharmacopoeia and liqueur because it gives the drinks, its taste typically bitter.
Its applications are also numerous in the production of aromas and extracts. A prominent figure of the Italian Pharmacopoeia and liqueur, stands the name of Marco Sarandrea Phytopreparator, herbalist, liqueur that has always curated projects on the dissemination and protection of medicinal plants, using in the production of his liqueurs, like the Gentian precisely the Aerial part of the plant, avoiding the root apparatus, since for years it was the object of collection disproportionate by careless people, who risked to bring to extinction this genzianacea.
From the need to satisfy the demands of the great barmen and with their recipes that combine tradition with a contemporary taste, in Italy we felt the necessity to rediscover a product like the American that with its characteristic olfactory taste and its Versatility succeeds in being fundamental in a mixing as complex as it is balanced.
Giancarlo Mancino, originally from Pignola, a country of Basilicata, a great barman of international profile, in addition to the production of a complete line of vermouth, has produced an extraordinary renowned American white wine from prized Italian white Aromatized to Gentian from the Centtrale Massif in France.. It is dry with pleasant hints of citrus, bergamot, rhubarb, wormwood, Mandarin, Angostura bark, gentian, lavender, vanilla and aloe. Complex with pleasant citrus and persistent notes with a warm and enveloping finish with sharp sensations Erbace, whose notes of Artemisia and the gentian, are able to emerge regionally from the masterful blend of aromatic herbs. Excellent and versatile in blending. Extraordinary in classic cocktails twisted like the Vesper Martini, Corpse Reviver, Julep.
Another famous American is that produced in Cocconato, in the province of Asti by Giulio Cocchi, made with white Moscato vinified dry. Cocchi has made the American, the aperitif par excellence of the city of Asti. This American is fresh and delicate is also indicated Also for the realization of sparkling cocktails thanks to its balanced notes that are very well matched with the bubbles. Cocchi also makes a version of American Rosè, called Pink Cocchi, whose color is not born from burnt sugar, but from the addition to the basic Moscato, Brachetto and Malvasia. A practice (that of mixing white and red wines together) prohibited in wine is allowed in vermouth and aperitifs based on wine. Finally, Cocchi also produces an American orange, called “Orange” sold only in the countries of the Northern Hemisphere, Canada in the head, where the presence of citrus peel increases compared to the original recipe.
The historical contract company of Canelli, relaunched a red American. In fact the color of the product is a beautiful amber load, the taste is decidedly classic, with a bitter well dosed and citrus scents in closure. The original recipe of the American, of the first years of the nineteenth century,
It is based on the combination of white wine must, intensiecting the taste by adding Italian Brandy and more than 25 herbs, spices, roots and seeds
The label, incorporates a beautiful drawing by Leonetto Cappiello, the “artist born in Livorno, author of magnificent labels and libery advertising for liqueurs and liquors of the era, among which are reminiscent of Branca, Campari and Cinzano
Another historical producer of the typology is also the Canellese, the company of Calamandrana. The label of Canellese plays on the concept of America-American with a beautiful vintage label with a statue of Liberty and a star-striped flag, although we know that the product actually has nothing to do with this reality Another Italian historical product, is the “Very Cora” L “American with the unmistakable red pomegranate, due to the natural carrot juice expertly diluted. The scent is intense and sometimes pinched by subtle notes of spices, while the taste seems very balanced between sweet and bitter. Another must is the American Gancia, ruby red in color. A classic aperitif scented with herbs and spices very interesting even in classic mixing.
A product that plays in the middle of the type between “American white” and vermouth. Aromatic and spicy scent, delicately fruity the historical cellar, following the “ancient Piedmontese tradition of the amaricate wines, also called Vin Greco (from the fact that the Moscato was called Greek grape and often was confused with the white Malvasia of origin Hellenic) produces this American fresh and slightly bitter taste
A product born recently, very particular being the only Italian product today on the market that is identified in the category Commodity Bitter wine, that is, a wine flavored like vermouth and American, whose main aromatization is made with the root of Gentian is the Amadivo a spice distinguished aperitif scent of genzianella. Long and persistent on the palate with a distinct amaricante sensation, typical of Gentian.
Moliere said: Great is the fortune of the one who possesses a good bottle, a good book, a good friend. I conclude by saying:
Great is the luck of us Italians that we have the opportunity to enjoy a territory as generous and varied. Our Americans are goods of time, history and tradition, worked by skilled hands that with determination, passion, sacrifice, inspiration and competence, have managed to bring the Italian excellence on our tables and on the bottle of bars around the World…
Thank you all…