Given the sheer volume of wine that the Italian wine industry produces, it should perhaps come as no surprise that there are a few that have a habit of slipping under the radar. While they almost certainly match the quality of their more famous cousins, these wines just don’t seem to attain the same levels of popularity, for whatever reason.
We’ve done our best at Xtrawine to shine a little bit of a spotlight on some of these lesser-known Italian wines. If you’ve followed our blog for a while, we hope that we’ve provided some valuable information that has helped you to expand your palette and perhaps try some wines that you’d never heard of before.
With this article, we hope to do the very same thing. Here we will be taking a look at the Vermentino wine, which is an Italian white wine that we believe is underappreciated.
Let’s cover some of the basics first. Vermentino is a grape that is used in the production of a number of different wines, though it is most closely associated with the DOC wines that carry the same name.
It’s a light-skinned grape, which obviously makes it ideal for the production of Italian white wines. It’s also one of the more widely planted varieties in Italy. It’s extremely popular in Sardinia, where it is referred to as Vermentino. However, the grape is also planted in Liguria. In that region, it is referred to as Pigato. For several years, people believed these grapes to be two different, though very similar, varieties. However, recent DNA testing shows that they’re actually the same. A similar situation occurs in Corsica, where the Vermentino grape is planted and given the name Favorita. It is also now uncommon to see the grape planted in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The vines are somewhat unique in the sense that they have dark green leaves that take a pentagonal shape. However, the grapes themselves are an amber/yellow. The vines are best grown on slopes and producers generally try to ensure that they face the sea. This allows them to benefit from the reflected sunlight, which lends an even greater quality to the grape.
The grape is native to Italy. However, as with many grape varieties, it’s not unheard of for it to be grown in other territories.
As you may expect from such a widely-grown grape, Vermentino is used in a wide variety of wines. However, the most famous of them is the Vermentino do Gallura, which is the DOC variety of the Vermentino wine. There is also the Superiore version, which is the DOCG certified wine.
These wines come from the Olbia-Tempio territory, which is in the northern reaches of Sardinia.
However, the grape is also widely used in the production of a variety of the white and sparkling wines that come from the Sardinian region.
The Flavours That You Can Expect
Those in the know will tell you that Vermentino is such a great wine because it has a level of complexity that you won’t find in many other white wines. It’s a deep and interesting wine that lends itself to exploration. While this makes it no less refreshing than other Italian white wines, it does make it more interesting to those who usually gravitate towards red wines due to their complexity.
The flavour profile obviously differs depending on the producer. However, you’ll usually detect some fairly citrusy notes, such as lime and green apple, along with more tempered notes of grapefruit. Moreover, you may detect some hints of almonds in the bouquet, as well as a slightly floral note, usually of daffodils.
The wine has medium-high acidity and is most definitely recommended for those who enjoy a good Sauvignon Blanc. The wines have similarities in terms of acidity and body, though we’d argue that Vermentino may have the more interesting flavour profile.
The taste of almonds comes from the somewhat bitter aftertaste that Vermentino leaves behind. This is by no means unpleasant though. In fact, it simply adds to the overall profile of the wine and lends it something different to the many whites that leave more fruity traces behind after drinking.
There are also differences in terms of the complexion of Vermentino. Some offer a lighter and more floral experience, whereas others seem richer and creamier. The differences come in the fermentation methods that the producer uses. A little experimentation with different producers will likely expose you to both styles, but it’s worth researching first if you have a particular favourite.
The Food Pairings
The slightly oily nature of the wine, coupled with the hints of bitterness in the aftertaste, make this a great wine for dishes that uses a few herbs and spices.
It’s particularly tasty when paired which chicken tacos, with the wine being more than capable of complementing the spices that are used in the taco. Of course, this is most definitely note a traditional Italian pairing. But it gives you a good idea of the wine’s strong points when it comes to food pairings.
As you’d expect, it’s not a good idea to pair this wine with richer red meats. Though it may hold its own more than other white wines, it will eventually be overwhelmed.
Having said that, it does match very well with richer varieties of fish, such as halibut. The wine is also great for pairing with garlicky dishes, such as pesto.
The Final Word
Vermentino is truly one of the underappreciated gems of the Italian wine industry. It offers a somewhat unique profile in the annals of Italian white wine and is generally considered one of the more complex examples.
We hope that your interest is suitably piqued to the point where you want to try a bottle. The great thing is that the wine is extremely affordable, thanks in some part to its lack of popularity when compared to other Italian whites. Give it a try today if you’re looking for an Italian white wine that offers a touch more complexity than you may be used to.
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