Josh placed a small wine glass containing a generous taste of a chestnut-colored liquid on our table and stood back. This was a surprise, we hadn’t ordered another wine. After a pause, Josh said, “Taste this. If you can tell me what it is, I will buy your dessert.” Pete and I looked at each other and smiled.
We had just finished a delicious meal at Sel, one of our favorite restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale, and ordered dessert (Chef Branden Levine’s delectable marzipan strawberry shortcake to be split between us.) I don’t think we’ve missed dining at Sel at least once every time we’ve visited Scottsdale since the restaurant opened early in 2016.
Anyway, we had been talking wine with Josh throughout our meal and discovered Josh works with Chef Branden to pair wines with the four-course fixed price menu. He also develops cocktails, which I discovered a couple of nights later when I enjoyed his very delicious Clove Actually (rye whiskey, clove syrup, orange bitters, other secret ingredients.)
So, Pete and I sniffed, sipped and pondered the dark, very aromatic liquid in the glass. It smelled and tasted distinctively herbal with spice and bitterness. It was rich and nutty. Wow. I thought of Vermouth, Campari, Chinato. I asked if it was from Italy. Josh said no. Well, now I was stumped. Pete shook his head. “It makes me think of Vermouth or Chinato,” I ventured. Josh shook his head. When we finally gave up Josh announced, “It’s Sherry.” Once again, wow! Sherry Vermouth, I had no idea it even existed.
About Vermut Lustau, from the Lustau website:
Our Cellar Master has carefully selected the wines used to make this Sherry Vermouth. A perfect blend of two wines each aged individually following the traditional, authentic “Solera y Criaderas” system: an Amontillado, dry and nutty, with character. A Pedro Ximénez, sweet, intense and velvety.
Wormwood, gentian, coriander and orange peel aromas stand out among the array of fragrant plants, fruits and spices contained in this vermouth. Each botanical macerates separately for optimal aroma extraction. The master blender then expertly combines the botanicals to obtain a perfect blend.
The secret of the Vermut Lustau formula lies on the harmonious and complex union of sherry wines and botanicals. Mahogany in color with reddish glints. Sweet aromas of ripe fruit are laced with citric and herbal notes over a smoky wood background. In the palate it is silky, flavorful and balanced. Bitter finish delicately accompanied by a distinctive nutty aftertaste.
I was completely drawn in by this wine; it is complex, herbal and slightly bitter, yet rich. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal. I hope you are as intrigued by this wine as I was and that you will try it for yourself.
Thank you, Josh, for the introduction to Vermut Lustau (and for buying our dessert because Vermouth was close enough.)
If you find yourself in Scottsdale, do yourself a favor and enjoy a meal at Sel. In addition to a fixed price menu, you may order a la cart. It will be delicious and most memorable.