BEER + WINE ISSUE: The aperitif ace up Carl Sutton's sleeve
CS Thanks. Because vermouth is widely consumed as an aperitif I wanted to produce something for after dinner. I was actually asked by a restaurateur friend, "Can you make a digestif wine? You know, like Fernet, but better?" (Put down the pitchforks and torches, people). I had recently had a French version, common to the Dordogne region, and I was totally intrigued. They drink it chilled sometimes and it's generally sweeter. Again, it's my California interpretation.
SFBG What other fortified wines or liqueurs do you produce?
CS We just released the fourth bottling of La Solera, a fortified red (now brown) that ages extensively in barrels and is finished by baking in the sun for 12 to 24 months in glass demijohns. They're these traditional nine-to-15 gallon glass vessels that look like a light bulb.
The oldest wine in the blend is 1999 and it's comprised of equal parts Zin and Syrah, 40 percent each, and 20 percent Carignane. I fortify to 18 percent ABV during fermentation and leave about eight percent residual sugar. Through the aging process it dries out, softens up, and drops substantial color. It's a really transformative process. We also have a red vermouth in development as well as a couple of things I'm helping some local bars with. *
601 22nd St, SF
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