Albourne Estate introduces a Sussex vermouth

Albourne Estate has unveiled the first Sussex vermouth, described as “an English take on the Italian favourite”.

The boutique vineyard, based near the South Downs in Sussex, has called its semi-dry vermouth ‘40’ as a nod to the number of botanicals with which it has been infused.

Vineyard owner Alison Nightingale, renowned for her white still and sparkling wines, said the timing of the release of the 18% abv drink is “opportune” as vermouth – popular in the 1970s – is becoming fashionable again.

She said: “Everyone was drinking vermouth straight or with a mixer back when Leonard Rossiter famously threw his Cinzano over Joan Collins in those iconic TV adverts. But then it took the back seat as people became more accustomed to drinking wine at home.

40 uses many herbs and other ingredients grown in the English countryside, including rosemary, thyme, rose petals and chamomile, alongside citrus peel, more exotic spices such as saffron and cardamom and some unusual ingredients such as coffee beans and tea.

The result is “a complex and elegant drink” which can be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif or instead of a dessert wine. It can also be mixed with sparkling wine or with tonic water.

The producer has also created bespoke cocktail recipes for 40, including The English Rose, which blends gin, tonic water, a splash of rose water, sugar syrup if needed and a sprinkling of dried rose petals.

Nightingale said: “A lot of people nowadays have no idea how to drink vermouth and our job is to show what a delicious and versatile drink it is, which works really well with many different types of food.

“We are using cocktail ideas on the 40 neck tags and in-store tastings with food pairings such as nuts, prosciutto and strong cheese like gorgonzola.

“Vermouth is quite big in America and the potential is huge this side of the Atlantic once people understand how and when to drink it. I believe that we are ahead of the wave in what could be the next big thing after gin.”

40, which will be priced at £20 for 70cl, uses matured Albourne Estate base wines blended with the botanical extract and sugar. It is then fortified to 18% alcohol. 40 is one of just a handful of English variants containing the vital bitter, aromatic wormwood, which is required to take the vermouth name.

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