Recently, Mauro Vergano was in town and I always consider that a treat. Mauro is a reserved man that would rather you taste than he talk, and he might graciously and carefully go about preparing a drink for you in silence. But here is a man that knows volumes about chinato, and vermouth, and americano. On this occasion I asked Mauro to define what is meant by "americano," and he replied that an americano is a vermouth to which something bitter has been added, making a result closer to Campari. I tried Mauro's Americano again, and it remains an uproariously joyful rendition of Grignolino dancing along the jagged edge. I also tried a recent batch of Luli, which was quite subdued in terms of fruit and really not what it once was. I've kind of watched the Luli drop off over the course of a few releases now, and in truth this makes me sad. It is sort of like watching one of those plump girls from a Peter Paul Rubens canvas go on a starvation diet.
But what was most interesting to me on this tasting date was the Nebbiolo Chinato. It tasted noticeably more mature than in the past. Like the base wine itself had been aged for a longer period before being made into a chinato. I know a producer, who shall remain nameless, that makes a chinato for family consumption. They buy in especially old bottles of Barolo and then blend them together as the base for their beverage, because they like that old wine taste. This is not what one usually finds from the commercial producers, who often use a fairly young base wine, something that is powerful and full bodied, with the fruit to balance out the bitter. And in fact it seems to me that full bodied fruit and a fairly tightly wound, young wine style used to define the taste of Vergano's Nebbiolo Chinato in the past. But no longer. This batch tasted of maturity. Of course I may be wrong, and I don't know the specifics.
Here is the lot number of what I drank recently, in case you are curious.