I really hate it when I discover a product that is significantly better than my old standard. Mostly because, in my experience, the new and better is always more expensive than the old and staid and comfortable. And this stuff is no different, so don’t get excited about the possibility of saving some money on your Martinis and Manhattans.
Several years ago I read about a new, high-end vermouth made by Duckhorn Vineyards. I bought a bottle, and while it was certainly good, it was too herbaceous and spicy for our martinis and my nascent Manhattan fixation. So I stuck to old reliable Noilly Prat, which is certainly good, just not anything special. But In my fanatical, obsessive quest to be first on the block with anything food and drink related, I kept poking around. looking for something different. And look what I found!
Vya is made by Quady Winery, in the Central Valley of California. I knew them as quite competent Port and fortified wine producers, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that they made Vermouth. I was surprised to find that it’s amazing stuff. There is nothing overblown or overwhelming in these wines. They are subtle and complex, and they don’t have that cloying sweetness that most red Vermouths, and some white Vermouths have. That sounds wonderful for Vermouth drinkers, but that’s not my cup of tea, so why should I care? Well, it makes for a marvelous Manhattan — complex, smooth and much more interesting than the plonk Vermouths that most bars and home cocktailers use.
The good folks at Super Cellars, in Ridgewood, NJ were nice enough to order it for me a few times, but then got bored and just began stocking it. They are the only store in the area to sell it, and it’s worth a visit just for the Vermouth. They are also working diligently to improve their Rye selection (apparently there has been a run on Rye recently), and that fills me with glee. There is nothing quite so delightful as a Perfect Manhattan made by my lovely wife, and good Rye is an integral part of that.