François Lurton, from the eponymous winegrowing dynasty in Bordeaux, not only vinifies excellent wines in South America and Europe, but also has a great passion for distinctive distillates. After the rousing success of his Sorgin, a gin distilled from Sauvignon Blanc, he and his partner Sabine Jaren have now created a vermouth – from this same grape variety.
Hardly anyone in the world knows the Sauvignon Blanc as well as Lurton, and even fewer have the opportunity to vinify this grape variety on as many diverse and exciting terroirs as he does, in Spain, France, Argentina & Chile.
This has led him in recent years to go one step further and see – in addition to the wine – what outstanding specialty items he could create from it. For a long time, he had played with the notion of making a vermouth. After the great success of Sorgin, he did not hesitate for long and began to develop the new idea.
A tribute to his great-grandfather
The vermouth is called «LÉONCE», christened after François Lurton’s great-grandfather, Léonce Récapet, who was a gifted distiller and tireless worker. In memory of him and his great technical command of the stillman’s art, which he left to the family, François has created this unique aromatised & fortified wine. No one else in the world uses this grape variety for making vermouth. It is therefore truly one-of-a-kind.
Léonce Vermouth/Sauvignon Blanc/Extra Dry
…is an extra-dry white vermouth made from selected Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the region Gers (Occitaine). The most recent vintage of the wine «Les Fumées Blanches» serves as the base, to which the macerate is added. In this process, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes are distilled to 70° alcohol and flavoured with herbs.
This blend of wine, brandy and herbal extracts creates a nicely balanced vermouth with intense and complex aromas: pink grapefruit rind, bitter orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, lychee, violet, liquorice, wormwood & sage.T
Soon also available in red!
Anyone who thinks that this is François Lurton’s only vermouth is in for a surprise. The final polishing work is now being done on two very unusual red variations. These involve a couple grape varieties from what Lurton considers his favourite terroirs from which he vinifies wine: Malbec from the appellation Chacayes in Argentina and the liqueur-wine from Maury in Roussillon, France. Further information concerning these will soon follow!
The history of vermouth
The name «vermouth» comes from that of the herb wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), which has been used as an ingredient in this drink throughout its history. It is a fortified wine, which has been aromatised with spices and herbs. As early as the 16th century there were fortified wines in Germany that contained wormwood as the primary flavouring ingredient. Around this time, an Italian merchant named d’Alessio began to produce a similar product called ‘wormwood wine’ in Piedmont. In the middle of the 17th century, the drink began to be consumed in England under the name ‘vermouth’, which remains today in common usage.
Grapes are used as base ingredients for vermouth, to achieve a distillate with low alcohol by volume. The wine can mature briefly before the other ingredients are added. Alcohol is usually boosted by adding a neutral brandy. The fortified wine is decanted into large casks, into which the dry ingredients have already been poured. This particular mixture is stirred at intervals until the flavours in the dry ingredients have been absorbed and the vermouth ready for bottling.
Botanicals commonly used in vermouth include wormwood, cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, cilantro, juniper, verbena & ginger. Recipes for making vermouth vary extensively, with most manufacturers marketing their own preferred flavour and their own version of the drink.