Vermentino (or Rolle in southern France) is a Mediterranean white-wine grape found principally in southern Europe, notably southern France, northern Italy, and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. While many argue that it is of Spanish origin, Vermentino is most associated with Liguria (where it is known as Pigato) and in Riviera Ligure di Ponente. It is used in blended and varietal wines in such well-known DOCs as Colli di Luni and Cinque Terre.
Vermentino grapes are typically used to produce light, attractively aromatic wines with refreshing acidity and leafy, lemon-tinged flavors. In contrast, the Vermentino wines of Bolgheri in northern Tuscany are more highly regarded for their depth and complexity, and can be likened to Viognier for their floral, slightly soapy characteristics. Few Vermentino wines have the structure to reward cellaring, thus they are best consumed young.
Vermentino plays an important role in Sardinia and is responsible for the island’s first DOCG, Vermentino di Gallura. Here the grapes are picked early to retain crispness and freshness, as unchecked yields can produce wines that are watery on the palate.
Although this variety does not easily lend itself to sweet wine styles, some DOCs in Liguria sanction Vermentino grapes for dried-grape passito wines. The Golfo del Tigullio is the most popular example, and to a lesser extent the Sciacchetra wines of the Cinque Terre coast.
In Provence in southern France, Vermentino has only recently been sanctioned for use in AOC wines. Of note is the Bellet appellation, where at least 60 percent of the wine must be comprised of Vermentino. A few producers in Australia and the U.S. are also experimenting with the variety – some have managed to create crisp, floral and tart examples when yields are controlled.
Synonyms include: Rolle, Rollo, Pigato, Malvoisie de Corse, Favorita.
Popular blends include: Grenache Blanc – Vermentino
Related grape varieties include: Vermentino Nero.
Food matches include:
Europe: Fried marinated sardines (sardine a scabecciu); clam soup (zuppa di vongole)
Asia: Thin-sliced octopus drizzled with sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit)
Americas: Hushpuppies (deep-fried cornbread balls); deep-fried shellfish turnovers (empanadas de mariscos)
Australasia/Oceania: Baked King George whiting fillets