Lillet Apéritif Tasting: Blanc, Rosé & Rouge

Think Lillet, and you’re likely to recall the James Bond scene from Casino Royale where he orders a martini, “three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet”.

Lillet is an aperitif wine from the village of Podensac, south of Bordeaux with a history dates back to 1872 when Paul and Raymond Lillet founded Maison Lillet Frères.

LilletLillet Blanc is arguably the most famous of the range, a dry-style aperitif which is pale straw in colour, with citrus tones and herbal notes. Made from a blend of Muscatelle, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the wine is combined with fruit liqueurs that have a base of sweet oranges from Valencia in Spain, green oranges from Morocco and Tunisia, bitter oranges from Haiti and cinchona bark (quinine) from the rainforest in the Peruvian Andes. The wine blend is aged for one year in oak casks.

Lillet Rosé is a blend of wines made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillion grapes using the same liqueur base as Lillet Blanc. Made in rosé style, with a short fermentation on the skins, the wine is also aged for one year in oak casks. Lovers of rosé wine will enjoy this dry style aperitif on ice.

Lillet Rouge is made from the same blend of wines as Lillet Rosé (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes) combined with the fruit liqueurs and cinchona bark. It has notes of ripe dark fruits and tannins which give it a mild bitterness similar to Italian-style aperitifs and its more robust character.

The range of Lillet is best enjoyed very chilled on ice with a slice of citrus. Be like James Bond, and use Lillet Blanc in a Vesper Martini. Or, if you feel like a fiesta, try Lillet Rouge in a Sangria or Lillet Cocktails.

Lillet Rouge Sangria / L’espagnole for One
3 parts Lillet Rouge
½ part fresh lime juice
Fresh juice of choice (berries, sliced apples, grapes, orange)
Lemon-lime soda

Build the first three ingredients over ice in a wine or Collins glass and stir. Top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with orange slice.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.