NV MATTHIASSON Napa Valley Sweet Vermouth #5

NV MATTHIASSON Napa Valley Sweet Vermouth #5

No. 5 Sweet Vermouth
Napa Valley

$45 375ML

First off, our vermouth is primarily about the wine — the base wine before the herbs, spices, and fruit exracts are added. The wine is mainly a rare variety named Flora, which was bred at UC Davis by the legendary Harold Olmo back in the 1950’s. Flora is a natural cross between Semillon and Gewurtztraminer. Though Olmo isn’t with us any more to confirm our theory, our conviction is that he bred it specifically for fortified wines. The California industry moved away from these types of wines by the 1960’s and Flora fell into obscurity. When we heard that Flora still existed in the organically farmed Yount Mill Vineyard we immediately begged for some fruit. This fruit is a rare exception for us — normally we try to grow all of our own fruit for our wines — but the temptation to make wine from this rare and historical variety was too much to resist.

Read more about our Sweet Vermouth in THE NEW YORK TIMES.

For the Vermouth No. 5 we also used a small amount of Muscat of Alexandria and a small amount of Viognier, both of which were harvested as raisins and aged in barrel for five years.

Batch No. 5 is a non-vintage blend of the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 vintages. The older wine gives the dried fruit and spicy-nutty flavors, and the younger wine is more vibrant with fresh fruits. This is only our fifth batch in the 11 years since our first release.

The barrels for aging are a mix of French Oak that previously held our white wines, and 25-year-old Cognac barrels.

Each year the fruit was picked very late, with some botrytis and raisins at harvest. On top of the naturally high sugar, the must was sweetened further by chaptalizing with a mix of organic white and brown cane sugar, to around 45 brix.

The grapes were fermented whole cluster (skins and stems) in open-top fermenters with manual punch downs twice a day. We let the fermentation stop naturally, with 120-170 grams per liter of residual sugar remaining due to the high brix when the grapes were crushed, and pressed the wine into partially full used barrels.

We added no sulfites during elevage and didn’t top, instead allowing the wine to slowly oxidize and develop the wonderful nutty and dried fruit flavors.

To complement the natural grape aromas of the Flora we made infusions of our own home-grown blood oranges and sour cherries, along with coriander seed that we purchased. The infusions were made in a base of high-proof neutral grape spirits.

The bittering was mainly done by adding an infusion of our own home-grown cardoons and wormwood (grown at our winery), but we also purchased chinchona bark and blessed thistle to infuse for a little more complexity.

The infusions were added into the wine right before bottling.

The wine was bottled unfiltered. 500 cases of half bottles produced. 17.0% ABV.

The Napa Valley Sweet Vermouth No. 5 makes a great boulevardier, blood and sand, negroni, manhattan, or even better, can be served neat as an aperitif or to accompany dessert.