Vermentino is one of Italy's most promising white skinned grape varieties. In a culture where white wines, frequently innocuous and neutral, are often reminiscent of alcoholic mineral water, Vermentino is capable of fine expressions across a range of styles. From brisk, herbal and pithy; to viscous, peachy and powerful; Vermentino's wines are compelling due to an attractive meld of freshness and intensity.
Vermentino arguably reaches its apogee in the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of Sardinia. Here it is capable of the richness one would associate with wines of the sun. Nevertheless, Vermentino manages to balance the weight and viscosity of its wines with zesty acidity for poise, and a lick of briny minerality imbued by modern vinification techniques, including cooler fermentation temperatures and extended time on lees.
Vermentino is also found in nearby Corsica. Here, it goes by the synonym Malvoisie de Corse, and is the most widely planted grape variety on the island. This is interesting given that the reputation of Corsica's wines largely rests on its reds. In Corsica, Vermentino is often produced in a more ambitious vein with later harvesting, and oak handling for added complexity. Producers such as Antoine Arena craft profound examples, able to compete with the very finest French white wines.
Ancient trading routes have seen cultivation of Vermentino spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. Farther north in Liguria its clonal manifest is known as Pigato. Top producers such as la Crena are known for tensile pine-scented expressions. In Tuscany, meanwhile, the variety is used as a filler across the region for over-priced wines that are lapped up by the tourist trade. In eastern Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon, the variety goes by the name of Rolle. In capable hands it obviates the low acidity in many of the regions' blends, while producing fat and unctuous wines when vinified haphazardly.
In Australia, Vementino's affinity for warm climatic conditions has not gone unnoticed. Experimental plantings are cropping up throughout the country's 'engine-room' zones, as well as warm, premium wine producing regions including the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.