Vermentino is a thin-skinned white grape found mostly in Italy. In the right hands, it turns into a crisp, refreshing wine known for its minerality, flavors of lemon, peach and dried herbs, and an ever-so-slight salinity.
This taste of the sea is no surprise, given that most plantings of this grape are on islands: Italy’s Sardinia and France’s Corsica. It can also be found in Liguria, where it goes by pigato, and Piedmont, where it is called favorita.
The grape is also increasingly popular in France’s (also coastal!) Languedoc-Roussillon region, where the grape is sometimes called rolle.
Regardless of where it’s from or what it’s called, vermentino makes for a remarkably versatile wine with food. Fish makes an obvious choice – think everything from oysters to fried catfish to grilled squid or prawns.
Try it with an herbed salad…or lobster salad…or a tomato and mozzarella salad…okay, basically any salad. It also goes well with pesto, hors d’oeurves and even lighter meats.
Some of the best are from the Vermentino de Gallura or Vermentino de Gallura Superiore appellations. If you can find it, one from Corsica’s Patrimonio region is lovely. Vermentino is also made in California and Australia, though in small amounts.
Good ones can be had in the $15 to $20 range, though the better ones are worth the splurge.
Here are some labels to look for, as well as average price:
Classics from Italy, crisp, fruity and delicious:
Cantina Gallura “Canayli” Superiore, Vermentino di Gallura, $20
Piero Mancini, Vermentino di Gallura, $14
Silvio Carta Badde Alva, Vermentino di Sardinia, $14
Pala I Fiori, Vermintino di Sardinia, $16
La Ginestra, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, $24
Poggio dei Gorleri Vigna Sori, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, $19
From California, Australia & Tuscany, warmer climates producing richer wines:
Mahoney Vineyards, Carneros/Sonoma, $16
Tablas Creek, Paso Robles, $24
Palmina, Santa Ynez Valley, $27
Yalumba Y Series, South Australia, $27
Mitolo Jester, McLaren Vale Australia, $14
Cecchi La Morra, Maremma Tuscany, $16
La Spinetta, Tuscany, $19