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We are, in this country, ill-served when it comes to vermouth. Liquor-board retailers prefer to stock a couple of the biggest Italian and French brands and no more. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario no longer even carries Noilly Prat white as a permanent offering, even though many dry-martini connoisseurs consider it the de rigueur brand. So, let’s give it up for Mike Traynor, owner and winemaker of Traynor Family Vineyard in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. He loves the road less travelled, crafting interesting and in some cases idiosyncratic wines from his boutique estate. And he’s created this fine, all-Canadian white vermouth, inspired by his mother’s lifelong devotion to gardening.

Vermouth is a slightly fortified wine infused with plant flavourings, known in the beverage trade as botanicals, historically including wormwood as a key ingredient but also herbs, spices and roots and barks. For this product, Traynor – a tea lover with experience creating his own blends and infusions – uses local lavender, hyssop, juniper, lilac, camomile, sumac and other flavourings.

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The flavours are smartly balanced, with none dominating. And fans of bone-dry martinis may be happy to know that this is one very dry vermouth.

In case you were wondering, it’s not named after a pop singer. “Madonna” is just a twist on Traynor’s mother’s name, Donna. Available direct from the winery, traynorvineyard.com.

  • Region: Prince Edward County
  • Price: $35

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