Italian Sweet White Vermouth Tasting Guide
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Following the order of events:
The Italians are credited with creating sweet vermouth in 1786.
Noilly Prat's dry style of vermouth followed in 1813. Dolin is credited for the sweet white Chambery style in 1821. Both styles further differentiated the regional differences between what we now call French and Italian sweet vermouth.
Finally, the Italians tried their hand at the French white style, resulting in bianco vermouth.
Don't let the pale appearance fool you – sweet white (bianco) vermouth has the sugar content and flavor profile closer to sweet red vermouth than dry vermouth. These Italian offerings are often as sweet as, or sweeter than, some traditional sweet red vermouth.
Just about every bottle of Italian bianco vermouth is an absolute joy to drink. Exceptional bottlings include the perfectly balanced Alessio Bianco, Contratto Bianco, and Bordiga Bianco, which all highlight a wonderfully bitter backbone to support the balance of fruit, herbs, and spices.
The only middling expressions are Carpano Bianco, Cinzano Bianco, Martini and Rossi Bianco which I found relied too heavily on vanilla.
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!
Producer: Tempus Fugit
Wine Base: Muscato, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc
Known Botanicals: at least 15, grand and petite wormwood
Nose: pear, strawberry, banana, lemon, pine, gingerbread, almond
Palate: bitter orange, honeysuckle, stone fruit, vanilla, marjoram, licorice, wormwood
Finish: wormwood, vanilla, cinnamon, marjoram, pear, grapefruit
Additional Notes: Very pale golden appearance, light body. Wonderfully balanced.
Berto Aperitiv dla Tradission
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Cortese, Arneis
Known Botanicals: at least 16, wormwood, bitter orange, gentian, cardamom, vanilla, coriander, mint, mace, hops, thyme, marjoram, lemon, cinnamon, clove, rhubarb, angelica
Sugar: 140 g/l
Nose: vanilla, cinnamon, raisin, gentian, lemon, marzipan, marjoram, fennel, straw
Palate: grapefruit, cinnamon, wormwood, gentian, mint, eucalyptus, orange, lemon
Finish: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, lemon, wormwood, orange, clove
Additional Notes: Pale amber appearance.
Wine Base: Moscato
Known Botanicals: at least 35, wormwood, gentian root, gentian flower, nutmeg, coriander, fennel seed, juniper, cinchona, marjoram, lime, mint, cardamom, orange peel, pepper, vanilla, genzianella flower, sage
Sugar: 190 g/l
Nose: lime, sage, juniper, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, grapefruit, black pepper
Palate: fennel, gentian, chamomile, honey, dark chocolate, toffee, bread
Finish: vanilla, cinnamon, clove, orange, chamomile, nutmeg
Additional Notes: Straw yellow color. Light and oily body. Warming confectionary notes perfectly balanced with bitter citrus.
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Chardonnay, Cortese
Known Botanicals: at least 12, wormwood, thyme, fennel, coriander, ginger, clove, chamomile, hyssop
Sugar: 178 g/l
Nose: gentian, honey, moss, lemon oil, anise, coriander, eucalyptus
Palate: honey, lemon, pine, grapefruit, cinnamon, vanilla, orange, sweet cream
Finish: mineralic, grapefruit, lemon, cherry, gentian, honey, late anise
Additional Notes: Light straw color. Reminiscent of a bitter orange creamsicle.
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc
Known Botanicals: at least 4, wormwood, clove, cinnamon, gentian
Nose: cinnamon, apple cider, sea salt, marjoram, thyme
Palate: ripe stone fruit, honey, clove, cinnamon, lemon, vanilla
Finish: gentian, grapefruit, cinnamon, clove, vanilla
Additional Notes: Light straw yellow. Medium/light body. Pleasantly bitter and confectionary, big on dry baking spice notes.
Wine Base: Cortese, Chardonnay
Known Botanicals: at least 50, wormwood, hawthorn leaves & flowers, coriander, marjoram, bay laurel, chamomile, yellow sweet clover, aloe juice, cinnamon, mint, ginger, angelica root, cardamom, nutmeg, bitter orange peel, gentian, nettle, sweet orange peel, carob tree pods, pimento seeds, felon herb, rhubarb root, hibiscus, sage, cinchona bark, lemon peel, bergamot orange peel, licorice root, sandalwood
Sugar: 190 g/l
Nose: sage, marjoram, lemon, licorice, sea salt, cumin, coriander, curry leaf, gentian
Palate: gentian, wormwood, sea salt, lemon, sage, fennel, vanilla, orange, cinnamon
Finish: wormwood, rhubarb, orange, cinnamon, chamomile, sea salt, cinchona
Additional Notes: Light golden color. Medium body. Bitter through and through. Dense salinity and candied grapefruit notes.
Del Professore Bianco
Producer: Del Professore
Wine Base: Muscato
Known Botanicals: at least 15, wormwood
Nose: licorice, straw, mahogany, tea, vanilla, clove, tarragon
Palate: ginger, orange, cinnamon, vanilla, rosemary, charcoal, smoked wood
Finish: cinchona, gentian, clove, cranberry, rosemary, anise
Additional Notes: Rich golden color. Oily body. Smoky, bitter herbal notes concede to the confectionary notes when diluted.
Mancino Bianco Ambrato
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc
Known Botanicals: 37 total, wormwood, angelica, chamomile, elderflower, gentian, cinchona, mint, ginger, cardamom, licorice, sweet orange peel, pink grapefruit peel
Nose: angelica, chamomile, elderflower, mint
Palate: sweet orange, ginger, pink grapefruit peel, aloe, chamomile
Finish: quinine, cardamom, licorice
Additional Notes: Golden-amber color. Sweet without the bitter backbone found in other Mancino vermouths.
Mancino Sakura (2018)
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc
Known Botanicals: 20 total, wormwood, cherry blossom petals, violet petals
Nose: orange, vanilla, cinnamon, lychee, pineapple, elderflower, papaya, honeysuckle
Palate: cherry blossom, rose, lavender, gentian, grapefruit, lemon oil, raspberry
Finish: wormwood, lemon, vanilla, cherry blossom
Additional Notes: Light rose color. Limited release originally for the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Tokyo.
Martini and Rossi Bianco
Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Catarratto
Known Botanicals: at least 14, two different wormwood varieties, dittany, raspberry, vanilla flowers, rose, violet, chamomile, Spanish lemon peel, bitter orange peel, cascarilla bark, quassia bark, orris root, Ceylon cinnamon
Sugar: 160 g/l
Nose: cumin, oregano, tobacco ash, bay leaf
Palate: vanilla, baked apple, cinnamon, lemon oil, bay leaf
Finish: marshmallow, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon
Additional Notes: Pale yellow tint. A vanilla bomb. Light/medium body.
Martini and Rossi Riserva Speciale Ambrato
Wine Base: Moscato D'Asti
Known Botanicals: at least 18, three different wormwood varieties, red sandalwood, Roman chamomile, Chinese rhubarb, dittany, raspberry, vanilla flowers, rose, violet, Spanish lemon peel, bitter orange peel, cascarilla bark, quassia bark, orris root, Ceylon cinnamon, Ecuadorian yellow cinchona bark
Sugar: 169 g/l
Nose: honey, honeysuckle, black pepper, peach, clove, banana
Palate: woody bitterness, lemon oil, honey, clove, strawberry, black pepper, Chinese rhubarb
Finish: cinnamon, vanilla, grapefruit, nutty, sea salt, black pepper
Additional Notes: Deep amber color (hence “Ambrato”). Vermouth di Torino. Not technically a bianco vermouth as Martini describes it as a new style, but sugar content and color allow it to straddle the line. Rich and complex.
Wine Base: Cortese (70%), Muscato (30%)
Known Botanicals: at least 8, wormwood, angelica seed, bitter orange peel, green cardamom, cinchona bark, Swertia bough, coriander seed, elecampane root
Sugar: 145 g/l
Nose: gentian, poppy, spearmint, grapefruit, eucalyptus, green bell pepper, coriander
Palate: lemon, grapefruit, gentian, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg
Finish: grapefruit, vanilla, cinnamon, cinchona
Additional Notes: Golden color. Vermouth di Torino. Thinner body with a bitter palate that sweetens on the finish.
Notably missing: Gancia Bianco, Montanaro Bianco, and Parini Bianco. 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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