Anyway, if the French are screwing us by sending watered down vermouth, stick it to them, and buy American.
Most of the famous vermouth manufacturers nowadays seem to be relying more on their 200 year old reputations, low low prices, and the fact that they are used by the dash in mixed drinks more than anything good about their products.
Martini at least is becoming more honest about how their vermouth is made. They're still talking about it in a round about way, but if I understand correctly, Martini & Rossi is now made as a compound vermouth, made by adding extracts to filtered wine sweetened with sugar and fortified with neutral spirits, which is then combined, chill-filtered, and bottled.
Noilly Pratt seems to imply that its production methods are different, which makes the fact that it is no better slightly mystifying.
They start with a blend of two wines, a flabby, high alcohol one that madierizes quickly, and a tart, thin one which if blended properly into the former, and aged correctly, produces a relatively neutral, high-alcohol madierized wine. It is then fortified and sweetened with mistelle, and raspberry and lemon flavoring extracts are added to bolster the wine a bit. Then, supposedly real botanicals are macerated in the wine for three weeks (although "botanicals" seems to be a very all-encompassing word, as caramel is added to their sweet vermouth somewhere along the line), then the botanicals are filtered out, the wine is rested, chill filtered, and bottled.
Besides a little cheating with the raspberry and lemon flavorings, all seems quite reasonable. I *want* to like Noilly Pratt vermouth, but for some reason they're making it very difficult for me to do so. Every couple of months or so after the last wretched bottle, I'll buy another, hoping the last 1, 3, 5 bottles have been flukes. So far I've been terribly disappointed.