Italian Vermentino

There has been many speculations or theories around the origin of Vermentino. Firstly, according to sources, Vermentino first originated from Anatolia, making its way to Turkey, then Greece, and then to the Aegean Islands. The Greeks later took the grape to France, and then finally to Italy. Another theory is that Vermentino most likely originated from Spain around the 14th Century, BC, moving to Corsica and then to Sardinia Italy, Tuscany and finally to Liguria.

As many, speculations are merely a form of hypotheses, Vermentino did infact arrive in Sardinia in the 19th Century, and has officially gained Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed origin in 1996 by the Vitis International Variety Catalogue. Depending on where you find yourself, Vermentino goes by many different names. Some of the most common are Favorita, Furmentin, Picabon, Rolle, Verlantin, Malvoise, Pigato.

Vermentino in SARDINIA

Sardinia is situated in the South of Italy, surrounded by the Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean and Ligurian Sea. Often described as an earthly paradise, Sardinia is home to an estimated 3200ha of Vermentino. Rich in culture and healthy lifestyle, the Mediterranean culture is one which boasts of luxury, yet still simplistic, relaxed yet fast moving, the same can be applied to the Vermentino variety.

Vermentino di Gallura is Sardinia’s only DOCG appellation, which came into effect in 1996, previously having received its DOC status in 1975. This North-Eastern corner of Sardinia is a cooler climate area, accompanied by windy conditions. The rocky granite lands situated in Gallura makes an ideal home for Vermentino. The soils found here are quite dry, allowing the variety to thrive in these favourable growing conditions, and intensifying its’ refreshing flavours.

The Maritime climate introduces long, hot and windy summers, while the winters see mild cooler temperatures.  These conditions are favourable for Vermentino di Gallura which thrives in these growing conditions. Even under these warm conditions, the variety still retains its acidity and freshness

Dry-drained soils, decomposed granite, and salty winds from the coast gives Italian Vermentino its remarkable aromatic complexity, fresh fruity flavours, pronounced minerality and refreshing finish. Grown on coastal facing slopes, the phenological berry ripeness is enhanced by the additional reflected light from the soil. Known to be a vigorous variety, the dark green leaves of Vermentino are pentagonal in shape. Its grapes are light straw colour, tending towards a more amber colour the closer it gets to harvest time, which is usually in the middle of the harvest season. This drought resistant variety is well suited for hot climate and infertile soils.

A glass of classic Sardinia Vermentino will offer up lively aromas of pear, white peach, lime and pink grapefruit with subtle notes of crushed rocks and citrus zest. On the palate, Vermentino is almost always dry and somewhat oily with flavours of grapefruit and citrus, with a crushed rocky minerality and saltiness. On the finish, it can be a bit snappy with bitterness similar to the taste of grapefruit pith or, if it’s on the riper side, fresh almond. Like most wines, Vermentino, has 2 distinct styles of winemaking. One style is more richer and creamier, having more body, while the other style is more lighter, more floral and zestier.

The difference between the two styles occurs after alcoholic fermentation as the wine ferments in the tank. At this point, the winemaker may choose to add a special kind of bacteria called Oenococcus oeni which eats on the tart malic acid in the Vermentino (it’s the same acid found in green apples) and produces small amounts of a flavour compound called Diacetyl. The process is called Malolactic Fermentation. Diacetyl gives off a more creamier taste and rich like butter flavour on the palate. Taking into consideration factors of climate, terroir and soil, the Vermentino grape from Sardinia is best suited to the growing conditions of the Voor Paardeberg Region.