Thursday, 24 April 2008

Bordeaux Aperitifs – Lillet

Lillet is an aperitif from the village of Podensac, near Bordeaux which nearly vanished into the mists of time until Bruno Borie (of Château Ducru Beaucaillou) purchased the Lillet Company company in 1985. Lillet was created by brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet. It's original name was Kina Lillet due to the content of quinine (the bark from the Peruvian Kina Kina tree). It's a bitter white-wine-based apéritif and is typically served over ice, either on its own or with soda water. Drinks made with Lillet are traditionally garnished with a twist of orange. Lillet is made with White Bordeaux (usually Sauvignon Blanc) mixed with fruit brandy (mainly orange). The fruit brandy is made with sweet oranges from the south of Spain, bitter oranges from Haiti and green oranges from Morocco and Tunisia.

Lillet was founded in 1872 and became fashionable after the Second World War, thanks largely to the late Duchess of Windsor. The wife of the exiled former Edward VIII travelled with Kina Lillet and demanded it in Paris restaurants. The James Bond film Casino Royale has raised Lillet's profile as it is part of the recipe for Bond's famous Martini “shaken not stirred”. Lillet has also appeared in The Sopranos, the television drama about the New Jersey Mafia and in The Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lecter invites his victim to share a glass of Lillet before he eats his brain.

The Lillet Company makes a blanc and a rouge version – the blanc is a golden colour, with flavours of candied orange, honey, pine resin, lime and fresh mint aromas. It's full bodied, rich and is aged for 8 months in oak. The rouge is a deep ruby red with powerful aromas of fresh oranges, ripe red berries, plums, vanilla and a hint of spices. Both are full bodied, rich and is aged for 8 months in oak.

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