Well, there's a title for you.
Made in Marseillan in the Languedoc, Noilly Prat is really a lovely vermouth. I have always thought it a lovely vermouth. And after visiting its birthing center I am convinced that is a lovely vermouth.
Too bad they don't send it over to America.
Oh, there's a vermouth imported with the Noilly Prat name, made from the same grapes-- picpoul and clairette-- and marinated with botanicals and citrus for three weeks, but it's not the stuff the French and the rest of the world get to drink. Just like Fernet Branca THEY CHANGE IT FOR OUR TASTE.
I'll stop shouting.
The rest of the world gets a NP that has lived outside in the sea air in very old casks for eight whole months before it gets the botanical and fruit treatment. This gives the vermouth a slightly strawed color with hazeled-tone notes. It is a little nutty and oxidized and has a lot more complexity. The vermouth the rest of the world gets has character.
Lots more character.
The Noilly Prat vermouth for America must to be clear as vodka. And so it goes straight from its fermentation in classy huge old Canadian oak (up to 402 hectoliters) directly to masceration and then into bottle. No eight months in sea air exposed old casks for us. God forbid.
These are the questions. Are Americans so incapacitated that appearances take precedent over flavor? Or is this a fatal flaw in the brains of marketers? The only good in this revelation is that I now am clued in on an inexpensive, high quality gift that one cannot get stateside in duty-free to bring back for my martini and aperitif loving friends.