Stuck in a wine rut? Instead of reaching for the same-old grape varieties, why not try a versatile Vermentino? This Mediterranean grape offers up unoaked, fresh fruit flavors with bright acidity. Masquerading under a myriad of synonyms, the food-friendly grape is also known as Rolle (France’s Provence and Corsica), Favorita (Piedmont) and Pigato (Liguria).
Widely planted in Tuscany, Vermentino is the main white variety found in Montecucco and within the Maremma. These dry, white wines typically display peach and pear fruit aromas with an occasional floral or spice note.
However, Vermentino probably shines brightest on the island of Sardinia where it has earned the highest designation for quality wine: Vermentino di Gallura DOCG. It was here that the vines were initially introduced to the island from Corsica in the early 1800s. Situated on the northeast of the island, Gallura’s name translates as an area located on high ground due to its elevation. The spot is also prized for its granite soils, which provide a mineral character to the wines, while the proximity to the sea adds a note of salinity.
One of the leading wineries in the area is Vigne Surrau, which produces 300,000 bottles annually. Although they also produce wines from Cannonau and Carignano, 60% of the winery’s production is dedicated to white wines, especially from Vermentino. In this regard, they make a range of styles from the variety, including dry, sweet and sparkling. Like the people on the island (Sardinia is known for being among the top five places in the world where people live the longest), these Vermentinos have great longevity. They can easily age for five to seven years due the granitic soils, and, while they lose some of their freshness similar to aged Riesling, they retain their beautiful structural elements and evolve in the bottle.
Here are a few bottles to seek out as you expand your grape horizons.
ColleMassari Irisse 2013, Montecucco DOC, Tuscany, Italy
An 85% Vermentino – 15% Grechetto blend that spends ten months aged in large oak vessels, this wine displays aromas and flavors of smoke, citrus and mineral with an angular structure and a hint of spice in the finish.
ColleMassari Melacce 2014, Montecucco Vermentino DOC, Tuscany, Italy
A very fresh wine with high acidity and a pleasing palate of mineral, pear and peach notes.
La Mora Vermentino 2014, Maremma Toscana DOC, Italy
Very floral nose joined by flavors of peach and pear on the round palate.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi Massovivo Ammiraglia Vermentino 2014 IGP Toscana,Tuscany, Italy
Having spent time on the lees, this elegant wine has a lovely waxy texture along with pear and peach flavors, culminating in long length.
Massi di Mandorlaia Vermentino 2014, IGT Costa Toscana,Tuscany, Italy
Aromas of peach, pear and mineral persist on the fresh palate with good acidity and long length.
Moris Farms Vermentino 2014, IGT Toscana, Italy
Tropical in style with intense peach fruit, floral and spice notes on the nose and palate.
Prato al Pozzo Vermentino 2014, Maremma Toscana DOC,Tuscany, Italy
Bright and fresh with high acidity and lots of citrus and pear along with saline and mineral characteristics.
Ribusieri Vermentino Chiaranotte 2014, Montecucco DOC,Tuscany, Italy
This wine shows ripe peach fruit with lanolin and spice, along with medium acidity.
Tenuta I’Impostino Ballo Angelico IGP Toscano Vermentino, Italy There is almost no fruit on this wine; instead, it offers up overt mineral, chalk and salty notes on the rich palate.
Val delle Rose Litorale Vermentino 2014, Maremma Toscana DOC,Tuscany, Italy
With 10% Sauvignon Blanc in the blend, this wine displays a nice richness on the palate with pear and lanolin, along with fresh acidity.
Vigne Surrau Branu Vermentino di Gallura DOCG 2014, Sardegna, Italy
Pronounced floral aromas give way to ripe peach and pear on the palate with bright acidity, richness and long length.
Vigne Surrau Sciala Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Superiore 2014, Sardegna, Italy
Named for the Italian word for “enjoy,” this higher-end version of Vermentino offers a more restrained nose, but with more richness and texture on the medium-full palate thanks to 24 hours of skin contact and five months on the lees, along with distinct salinity and minerality.
Vigne Surrau Sole di Surrau IGT Isola dei Nuraghi Passito di Vermentino 2014, Sardegna, Italy
This unctuous dessert wine offers up both fresh and dried apricot notes accompanied by honey and orange peel; it is beautifully balanced with bright acidity.