French Sweet White Vermouth Tasting Guide
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
As with dry vermouth, the French were the pioneers of the sweet white style of vermouth, with Dolin putting out the first blanc vermouth in 1821. Don't let the pale, sometimes crystalline appearance fool you – sweet white vermouth has sugar content and a flavor profile more in line with sweet red vermouth than dry vermouth.
It's worth noting that some classic cocktails which called for “French” vermouth were, in fact, referring to French blanc vermouth rather than dry. The El Presidente is a prime example, and I have to wonder about French-born classics like the Scofflaw.
Every blanc vermouth I've tried has been exceptional with my favorites being the two lighter offerings from Dolin: the bitter, confectionary C. Comoz Blanc and more fruitier, more vanilla-forward Dolin Blanc.
If you're new to the world of vermouth, check out my Introduction to Vermouth post to learn some basics, introduce yourself to some of the terminology used, and get a general overview of how these guides are structured (and why). Then join me back here to get into the details!
C. Comoz Blanc
Wine Base: N/A
Known Botanicals: wormwood
Nose: oregano, juniper, nectarine, lemon oil, tarragon
Palate: vanilla, black cherry, cinnamon, wormwood, orange, cinchona
Finish: wormwood, vanilla, sarsaparilla, faint straw, black cherry, cinnamon
Additional Notes: Very light gold color. C. Comoz Blanc is a lighter, less sweet style of white vermouth. Light/med body, nice round mouthfeel. Warm and confectionary. Surprisingly bitter for a blanc vermouth. Credited with being the first crystal clear vermouth, though not the first white/blanc. This was the original vermouth used in the El Presidente. Shuttered in 1981, but has since been revived by Dolin and reintroduced back into the market.
Wine Base: Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano
Known Botanicals: 33 total, wormwood, gentian, hibiscus, basil, cinnamon
Sugar: 130 g/l
Nose: bark, menthol, sea salt, pine, banana, vanilla, thyme
Palate: vanilla, white grape, pear, pineapple, lemon, elderflower, oregano, cinnamon
Finish: elderflower, vanilla, pear, cinnamon, lemon
Additional Notes: Pale yellow/green tinge. Light body. Floral with notes of tropical fruit and plenty of vanilla through and through.
La Quintinye Blanc Vermouth Royal
Producer: La Quintinye
Wine Base: Ungi Blanc/Trebbiano
Known Botanicals: 18 total, wormwood, vine flower, angelica root, iris root, cardamom, cinnamon, bitter orange, nutmeg, ginger, cinchona, licorice, quassia amara
Nose: lavender, orange zest, rosemary, grape, vanilla, licorice, eucalyptus, pine
Palate: green cardamom, cinnamon, lemon, ripe apple, clove, gentian, orange
Finish: lemon, licorice, green cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile
Additional Notes: Pale gold color. Light body. Bitter, bright, and citrusy. Fortified and sweetened with Pineau des Charentes.
Wine Base: N/A
Known Botanicals: N/A, wormwood
Nose: gentian, orange, lemon, clove, cinchona, cinnamon, apple, raisin, juniper, banana
Palate: orange, lemon, cinnamon, clove, hay, apple, cranberry, green cardamom, gentian
Finish: orange, vanilla, clove, mushroom, lemon, cinchona, raisin, straw, fennel
Additional Notes: Rich amber color. Similar to the Maurin Dry, but obviously more robust on account of the higher sugar content. Has the most movement on the palate of any Maurin aromatized wine, making for a particularly interesting expression. Works well in cocktails.
Producer: Distillerie des Alpes
Wine Base: Sauvignon, Jacquere
Known Botanicals: 18 total, wormwood, vanilla, thyme, cinnamon, elderflower
Sugar: 110 g/l
Nose: apple, thyme, elderflower, lemon, honey, orange
Palate: lychee, cinnamon, orange peel, chamomile, honey, cinchona, baked apple
Finish: raisin, clove, cinnamon, tarragon, vanilla, orange
Additional Notes: Pale yellow color. Sweet on the palate with a medium/light body. Needs a bit of dilution to really open up. Chambery style vermouth. Technically a semi-sweet white vermouth rather than a sweet white vermouth on account of sugar content.
Notably missing: Guerin Blanc. Will accept donations of any missing vermouths.
Check the individual regional Vermouth guides for more detailed information on regional styles and recommended bottles:
Sweet White Vermouth
Sweet Red Vermouth
Quinquina and Americano
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