“Castagna Bianco Vermouth Aperitif 2016 is “more than 30 biodynamically-grown botanicals blended with the spirit of Beechworth.” Its main vinous ingredient is Viognier, which doesn’t get much of a chance to show its head through all those bits and pieces that the Castagnas imported or planted, and which Julian’s discovered sniffing and chewing around the bountiful Castagna gardens.
“Jeez the damn thing smells glorious. Only a boofhead would dare to make a stab at its ingredients, but I’ll be a foolhardy pointer: its russetty autumnal hue segues to big oozes of gingery marmalade with stuff like nutmeg, juniper and cassia bark getting ready to be sauce. Maybe the Viognier helps with the ginger. It also has fat dumplings cooked in all that sort of aromatic direction with golden syrup.
“The bouquet climbs right out of the glass and occupies the table to a depth of about 200ml. Which fragrance one can easily spoil with a severe chill or too much soda. Don’t do it. I like cool cellar temperature; maybe one ice block if the summer’s too big.
“As a drink, it elevates to hover above your forehead like a medium-weight Tinkerbell, between dry and savoury-bitter to sweet and gently-stewed. It hints at architectural angularity in its stern acidity and juniper berry/bay leaf tannin, but then there’s a wave of just the right depth of that gentle blood orange and slightly pineappley dumpling syrup. It massages the anticipatory senses, stirring hunger and more thirst. It flares one’s nostrils in a wolvish way.” Phillip White – Drinkster