Vermentino is a mystery that some of wine’s finest brains have been unable to crack. For example: Where did it come from?
The possibilities include Spain and Italy, but nobody’s sure. And is the grape really Vermentino, or is it a variety called Pigato? The arguments continue.
What is certain is that its vineyard plantings are increasing, because it perfectly satisfies today’s demand for crunchy, mineral white wines — plus it has a dash of seaside salinity.
What we know about Vermentino
Vermentino is widely grown in northwestern Italy, particularly in Sardinia. In recent years, it’s established a strong foothold in the Tuscan coastal village of Bolgheri, where it’s prized for its lemony snap. It’s also found in a number of other Italian regions, and parts of southern France, where it is commonly known as Rolle.
It’s also being embraced in Australia, where more winemakers are starting to create high-quality, vibrant, and lively expressions of the maritime grape, and Texas, southern Oregon, and central California are also experimenting with Vermentino. It’s even made its way to Virginia.
A versatile grape, its styles can range from rich, full, and floral to bright and citrusy with zippy minerality.
It’s a wine worth getting to know because there will be increasing amounts of it on store shelves and restaurant wine lists.
Here are some examples recommended by experts.
Bottles to try:
Unti Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Vermentino 2014 (~$15)
Unti Vineyards has specialized in making Mediterranean-style wines in Healdsburg, California since 1997. However, it’s the winery’s Vermentino that has become a favorite of Kelly Cornett, a wine media and events specialist in Atlanta, Georgia who runs the wine education podcast and blog, “A Cork in the Road.” The wine displays bright acidity and floral fragrances, while the palate is saturated with juicy melon and stone fruit flavors.
Sella e Mosca La Cala di Sardegna Vermentino 2020 (~$14)
This comes from one of the largest estates in Europe, Sella e Mosca in Sardinia, which dates back to 1899. With more than 1,200 acres dedicated to grapes, there are plenty of wines to choose from, including the aromatic Vermentino. The wine has the floral fragrance Vermentino fans love, while the signature acidity is softened by tropical fruit flavors and a lingering finish.
Cantine Argiolas Costamolino Sardegna Vermentino 2020 (~$15)
Founded in 1937, the Argiolas estate has a reputation of producing refreshingly bright and delectable wines in Serdiana, a commune within south Sardinia. This Vermentino smells of spring flowers, and it exudes a flavor palate that is both savory and crisp with nuances of tangy peach and grapefruit. Fresh acidity comes into focus during the saline, minerally, and lingering finish.
Domaine Maestracci Corse Calvi E Prove Blanc 2017 (~$17)
Founded in 1945, Domaine Maestracci produces wines on the French island of Corsica, within the foothills of Monte Grossu. The high altitude, maritime winds, and close proximity to the sea helps Vermentino, or Rolle, develop its typical freshness and mineral bite. The wine is balanced with a smooth texture, according to Charles Springfield, a New York City-based sommelier and author of “The Less Is More Approach to Wine.” Springfield continues, “This wine features hints of dried tropical fruit, peaches, and almond butter.”
Pala I Fiori di Sardegna Vermentino 2020 (~$18)
Azienda Agricola Pala has produced wines in Sardinia since 1950. The winery, which is run by third-generation winemaker Mario Pala, is known for making fresh, organic wines like this Vermentino, which displays “perfumed aromas of yellow apple, white peach, and softer notes of honeysuckle and minerality,” says Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW, an educator in Los Angeles. “On the palate, it is round with well-balanced acidity making this a lovely soft sunny sipper,” Simonetti-Bryan adds.
Cantine di Dolianova Dolia di Sardegna Vermentino 2017 (~$18)
Light straw in color with green highlights, “It’s very floral and crisp,” says Danny Cloyd, a sommelier in Washington D.C. who owns the wine consultancy and education service, The Rolling Grape. Cantine di Dolianova Dolia has produced this bottle and several others since setting up shop in sunny south-eastern Sardinia, within the Parteolla region, in 1949.
Château Maris Pays d’Oc Vermentino 2020 (~$18)
This is produced by Château Maris in the South of France, which farms biodynamically. This particular bottle of Vermentino comes highly recommended by Hank Zona, the New Jersey wine educator behind The Grapes Unwrapped. Organic grapes are used to make a lemon and lime, zesty wine that is balanced with acidity, roundness, and undeniable freshness.
Cantine Lunae Bosoni Etichetta Grigia Colli di Luni Vermentino 2020 (~$20)
The name of this wine was sparked by winemaker Paolo Bosoni’s fascination with an ancient Etruscan and Greek port that the Romans established for the Luna, the goddess of the moon, in the Italian coastal town of Luni in 177 B.C. A shimmering straw yellow wine with glints of green, this wine is Bosoni’s tribute to the history and wonder of his birthplace in a Vermentino vineyard along northwest Italy’s Ligurian coast. The wine features an unexpected aroma of honey and fresh flowers, with intense nuances of green apple and grapefruit that mingle with white peach undertones.
Marchese Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Vermentino 2019 (~$23)
Marchese Antinori has been a leading producer in Italy for more than six centuries. The family has cultivated grapes and made wines across Tuscany since 1385. However, the first vintage of Vermentino didn’t arrive until 1990 after the family planted it in vineyards in Bolgheri on the coast of upper Maremma. This wine smells of warm sea breezes while the palate has pronounced mineral notes and freshness.
Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Reserve Vermentino 2019 (~$23)
The Vermentino used for this bottle has historical roots. The estate was originally owned by James Barbour, the former governor of Virginia and a friend of Thomas Jefferson, in the 1800s. However, the Piedmont, Virginia property wouldn’t be used for viticulture until Gianni Zonin acquired the land and established Barboursville Vineyards in 1976. Averaging a 90-point score from critics, this medium-bodied wine is ripe with grapefruit and herbal characteristics while maintaining a steely, refined texture.
Two Shepherds Windmill Vineyards Vermentino 2020 (~$26)
Winemakers William Allen and Karen Daenen source fruit from all over California to produce Two Shepherds’ organic wines. The grapes used for this Vermentino grow in the Windmill Vineyard within Dunnigan Hills AVA, in the northwest region of Yolo County. The pale yellow wine displays Vermentino’s trademark acidity, however, the palate is ripe with melon flavors and hints of wet stones.
Tablas Creek Vineyards Paso Robles Vermentino 2020 (~$27)
Tablas Creek is the longtime partnership between the Perrin family, proprietors of the French winery Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands in California. Wines under the Tablas Creek label are made in Paso Robles, just 12 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, and the sea influences are noticeable in the Vermentino’s salty lime aroma. The palate is awash with briny minerality and citrus flavors while a hint of lemongrass lingers in the finish. “Tablas Creek makes excellent Vermentino,” says Noelle Harman, a wine instructor at The Wine and Spirit Archive and educator behind Outwines in Southern California.