Vermentino is a white wine grape best known in Italy—and, to a lesser extent, France. Significant plantings of Vermentino can be found in Sardinia, the northwest of Italy, and the south of France. Outside of these primary regions, Vermentino is also grown in several diverse regions internationally.
The Vermentino grape has a thin, light-colored skin, producing wines that are usually very aromatic, light-bodied and refreshing. Its aromatic profile can include floral notes, citrus fruits, white fruits and sometimes a nutty quality. On the palate, its flavors range from citrus fruits to mineral notes and even salinity. Vermentino is known for its distinctive bitter finish, reminiscent of almonds. Vermentino is sometimes harvested early to preserve its acidity and are generally enjoyed young.
Though most Vermentino is light in body, some producers opt for a richer and fuller style. This is usually achieved through the process of malolactic fermentation: a secondary fermentation that transfers tart malic acid into creamier lactic acid. This is typically done in oak barrels, and the wines may also be aged in oak for a time.
The Sardinian Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) appellation, Vermentino di Gallura, produces some of the best known Vermentino. Wines produced from Vermentino can also be found across numerous other Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) areas. Such designated areas, or appellations, enforce strict controls on participating producers—from vineyard management and winemaking practices, to aging and beyond.
These wines should theoretically be of a higher quality than wines without such designations, though there are exceptions. The individual rules will vary from appellation to appellation, but Vermentino is either required or permitted in the blend for a wide variety of these wines.
In Italy, Vermentino forms part of or the entire blend for Vermentino di Gallura DOCG, Vermentino di Sardinia DOC, Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vermentino DOC and Colli di Luni Vermentino DOC, among others. French Vermentino is popular in Patrimonio, Bellet (where the grape is known as Rolle) and numerous Languedoc-Roussillon appellations; notably Côtes du Roussillon.
Elsewhere, Vermentino is grown in the USA, Australia, Lebanon and Malta. American plantings of Vermentino span many states including California, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.
Though best known as Vermentino, the grape has numerous synonyms. In Piedmont, the grape is known as Favorita—also sometimes called Favorita Bianca or Favorita d’Alba. In the Liguria region of northwest Italy, it’s called Pigato. In Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, it’s better known as Rolle. Other synonyms include Vermentini, Vermentino Pigato and Vermentino Bianco.
Vermentino should not be confused with Vermentino Nero, an unrelated Tuscan grape that is nearing extinction.
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