At the end of the nineteenth century Pietro Bordiga owned a famous bar in Turin. He decided to use his knowlege of botanical flavorings and the extraction of essential oils to open a distillery, and he decided to locate it in a city near the mountains where the wild plants used to make amaro and other spirits grew. He chose the city of Cuneo, a little over an hour south of Turin and close to the Occitan Alps. The climate here, influenced the mountains and by proximity to the ocean just over the Alps, creates herbs that are particularly rich in essential oils and aromas.
The distillery used to be in the historic heart of Cuneo, and was then moved to the road just outside town leading to the mountains, where it is now. At the heart of the building is the ancient copper pot-still that dates from 1888. Bordiga make all of their own infusions, and many of the wild plants they use, such as gentian, juniper and chamomile, are still gathered in the Alps nearby. They produce Vermouth, including the classic Vermouth di Torino; Gin; and a number of Amaros (herbal liqueurs with a balance towards bitterness).
Vermouth is an ‘aromaticized wine,’ a wine that has been infused with herbs and blended with a proportion of alcohol. The word ‘vermouth’ is a corruption of the German word (‘wermut’) for the bitter herb wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium), which is still part of the botanical base of vermouth, although regulated by the US government. The original classic areas for the production of vermouth were in Chambéry in France, and in Piedmont, south of Turin, both part of the historic duchy of Savoy.
Credit: Oliver McCrum Wines & Spirits