Vicario Mirto is estate grown, collected in November from our family farm at Villa Sant'Andrea in Cortona, Italy, and is an excellent after dinner digestivo.
The common myrtle, Myrtus communis, is widespread in the Mediterranean region where it has been held since antiquity as the emblem of honor, authority, love and immortality. In Greek mythology myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite and Demeter and was worn by the Athenian judges while exercising their functions and constituted, with laurel, the wreaths of the Grecian and Roman winners in the Olympian and other games. Jewish traditions have it as a token of peace, to be used in bridal decorations, just as it was in the Roman world, while the Mohammedan tradition places it among the pure things carried by Adam out of the Garden of Eden. In the ancient world myrtle occupies a prominent place for its medicinal uses in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides and Galen. The ripe fruit of myrtle holds resin, sugar, citric and malic acids, tannin, and volatile fragrant oil consisting of a mixture of pinene, cineol, and dipentene. The leaves, berries, and twigs have been employed in flavoring food and wines since ancient times and the liqueur made with myrtle is the most typical drink of Sardinia, one of the islands of Italy.
The liqueur’s origin may really be found in ancient Egypt, as Egyptians used to crush the leaves of the myrtle and add them to wine to treat fever and infection. There are two varieties of this drink: the Mirto Rosso (red) produced by macerating the berries, and the Mirto Bianco (white) produced from the leaves. There are many different local preparations for Mirto, with many regional and family variations and in fact many different names for Mirto according to various dialects. The best Mirto is made with berries gathered from either wild or cultivated plants which grow without the help of pesticides or fertilizers, combined with few leaves in the batch.
Mirto is drunk after dinner or it is used in cooking, like in the traditional Porceddu al Mirto, a roasted piglet over open fire, which has been prepared by rubbing the inside and outside with lard and salt while, inside, black pepper, parsley and inserted with fresh leaves of myrtle. The roast is also basted several times with the Mirto liqueur.
Mirto is excellent, as well, in the cooking of duck, wild game, or poultry dishes.
South Carolina: Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits (800) 922-2224
Georgia: National Distributing Company (404) 696-9440
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California: Skurnik Wines (212) 273-9463