Mistell’ and a ball of gum
The secrets of how Noilly Prat vermouth is manufactured go back to 1813 – in the small village-port of Marseillan in the south of France. ‘Mistelle’ is the secret sweetener used in the final stages of production of this fortified wine, better known as an apéritif. The doors to Noilly Prat are open to me on this beautiful afternoon, so in I venture to unearth some of this delicious drink’s manufacturing mysteries, and also find out how the brand will be partnering with its newest, glamorous neighbour – the La Baraquette resort.
Leader in its category, Noilly Prat produces its divine nectar here in Marseillan itself, on the edge of the old port. It plays host to bus-loads of tourists, all keen to find out a little more about the company and its history, and about a drink that is exported to all four corners of the earth.
Secret No 1: The earth
Made primarily of white wine (75%), Noilly Prat’s vermouth relies on its strength from the sunlit soil of the Languedoc region of the south of France. It should be noted that the alcohol content of vermouth should be between 15% and 22%. Thanks to the alcohol in the mistelle, fermentation eventually halts and the mistelle itself transforms into a natural sugar.
Secret No 2: After the earth, the planets
A fortified wine, Vermouth is also flavoured by plants and herbs. About twenty different flavourings make up the four Noilly Prat recipes. Original Dry, Extra Dry, Red and Amber are transformed by Mother Nature with the addition of spices and sometimes unusual fruit. Peel of bitter oranges, gentian root, cloves, nutmeg, Greek saffron, vanilla and cinnamon are among Noilly Prat’s aromatic secrets. Absinthe is also essential – it just wouldn’t be vermouth without it. (In fact, the word ‘Vermouth’ actually means ‘Absinthe’ in German.)
An aperitif for him and for her
The tipple was first forumated in 1786 – as an apértif for ‘Madamme’ to sip before dinner. The ‘Amber’ best fits this role today (a relatively recent addition, introduced in 1986), being sweeter and fruitier than the three other recipes.
Popular in the United States for hundreds of years, Noilly Prat Vermouth owed its early success to the differing skills of its two founding families. The Noilly side developed a quality product, whereas the Prat family focused on innovative marketing.
La Baraquette – the perfect showcase for Noilly Prat
Noilly Prat will, of course, be being served in the bars and restaurants at La Baraquette, as an authentic ‘taste of the region’. It should make an appearance in its pure form over ice, as well as an ingredient in exotic cocktails, sipped as the sun sets over the oyster beds and vines.