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Time To Discover Vermouth?


About 9diDANTE

“Making vermouth is easy. Making great vermouth entails a lifetime of dedication and expertise. Luckily, I knew where to find it.”

– Alex Ouziel, Co-Founder, 9diDANTE and Kaliro Spirits

9diDANTE (“Nove di Dante” or Nine di Dante, if you prefer) is a new line of cutting-edge vermouths made near Turin, epicenter of world-class vermouth. From Alex Ouziel, founder of Kaliro Spirits and a former C-suite executive with Bacardi, 9diDANTE Inferno Rosso, Purgatorio Extra Dry and Paradiso Rosé are unusual for placing wine in a starring role. Each has been inspired by the work of onetime master blender and vermouth legend, Mario Baralis.

⦁ The Place: Alba, south of Turin in northeast Italy’s Piedmont region, home to a couple of Italy’s most revered red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. Also home to the Vermouth di Torino IGP, one of just two protected areas for vermouth in the world.

⦁ Mentor: Mario Baralis, long-time master blender behind the Carpano and Antica formulas in the years before the centuries-old company changed hands in 1996.

⦁ The Vision: To introduce a new generation to what great vermouth can and should be, to vermouths that can be enjoyed as stand-alones and reclaim their rightful place in the cocktail trend vermouth helped start.

⦁ The Intent: Vermouths that celebrate Piedmont’s world-famous grape varieties, in which the botanicals are designed to augment the wine component rather than masking it.

Some Vermouth Basics

The origins of vermouth, a fortified wine flavored with botanicals are lost in time, but the formula as we know it today was perfected in late-18th century Turin. Just why is no coincidence:

⦁ Great Grapes: The world-famous Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Cortese and Arneis wines of Piedmont

⦁ Great Botanicals: Herbs from the nearby Italian Alps, blended with spices from the Far East, shipped to the port of Genoa.

⦁ The Influencers: The drink of choice at the rich, powerful and party-loving 18th-century Court of Savoy.

In the Beginning …

9diDANTE begins with a chance meeting between Alex and Mario in 2018. Alex knew the type of product he wished to create, though lacked the know-how to bring it to life. For Mario, it was a chance to influence creation of a high-end product and pass on the knowledge and experience of a lifetime.

The vision was to create a line of vermouths for a contemporary palate, taking an approach that eschews modern-day industrial shortcuts. At 75-years-young and one of the few remaining guardians of a centuries-old craft, Baralis seeks to inspire aspiring young distillers, keeping a historic Piedmontese tradition alive.

The 9diDANTE Concept

⦁ Buy quality, buy local, buy indigenous: 9diDANTE is a rarity, one of few producers in the Turin region to use 100% DOC Piedmontese wines made from native grapes. Bottles and other packaging materials are also locally sourced, often from family-owned businesses.

⦁ Wine-first vermouth: in which botanical components are intended to complement the wine rather than obscure it. Vermouth, by law, is 75%-plus wine. Says Alex: “For too long, vermouth’s wine content has been hidden behind a wall of botanicals. I see wine as the first and last botanical, bringing with it its own singular aromas and textures, in addition to the herbal, spice and citrus elements.”

⦁ To make the rosso, 9diDANTE uses red grapes. While this might seem obvious, the fact is almost all producers of red vermouth use white wine, colored with a dose of caramel.

⦁ A journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy: Represented in 9diDANTE vermouths in the form of herbs and spices identified with each of the famous nine circles of hell as chronicled in Dante’s poem. This unusual route took Alex and Mario to often new and unexpected places, such as the inclusion of nettles to define the field of pain Dante describes in his depiction of heresy. Each vermouth comprises a blend of 27 different botanicals and spices.

The 9diDANTE Difference: The Product

A year after their first meeting, Alex and Mario arrived at the final recipe for Inferno. Along the way, many avenues were explored though few were taken. The result led to a base wine component comprising 50/50 DOC Piedmont Dolcetto and Cortese.

Inferno launched in 2019, followed by Purgatorio in 2021. Both are good enough to enjoy solo, or delicious in a cocktail:

9diDANTE Inferno Rosso Vermouth di Torino Superiore IGP: a 50/50 blend of Piedmont DOC Dolcetto (red) for structure and color, and Cortese (white) for a lively acidity. A naturally red vermouth that preserves the sour cherry notes from Dolcetto, followed by notes of orange zest, forest fruits and cardamom.

9diDANTE Purgatorio Extra Dry Vermouth di Torino Superiore IGP: made from 100% Piedmont DOC Arneis (another first), admired for its pear and apricot notes. This unusually full-bodied extra-dry vermouth balances citrus with herbal notes of sage, mint and thyme.

9diDANTE Paradiso Rosé Vermouth di Torino Superiore IGP: 12% Piedmont DOC Nebbiolo and 88% Piedmont DOC Cortese.

The 9diDANTE Difference: The Company

9diDANTE vermouths are made at the historic Dr. M. Montanaro Distillery, just five miles from the town of Barolo, the heart of Piedmontese winemaking. A craft operation with just seven full-time employees, this is the region’s oldest grappa di Barolo distillery and credited with creation of the first mono-varietal Grappa di Barolo back in 1885.

The 9diDANTE Difference: The Name

And finally -- the name! “We wanted a fun name that acknowledges the wines’ Italian origin and tradition of excellence,” says Alex. “Dante,” of course, refers to Dante Alighieri, author of La Divina Comedia (1320), a revolutionary work in its day, not least for being published in the Italian vernacular as opposed to traditional Latin. Ouziel draws a parallel with his own decision to use DOC Piedmont grapes in the composition of 9diDANTE vermouths, as opposed to basic neutral white wines.

La Divina Comedia chronicles Dante’s imagined journey through nine circles of hell and nine successive terraces in purgatory before finally making it to paradise. Listed on the back label of each vermouth are nine botanicals, each symbolizing a specific stage in the poem. Each bottle cap includes a quote from the poem, and a different circle is highlighted on different bottles. Don’t take the allusions too seriously, or Dante’s famous admonition, inscribed at the gates of hell to “abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”



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