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Vermentino bursts onto the summer stage
2014-08-21
By John H. Isacs

WINES and fashion are similar in that both go in and out of style. Deliciously in vogue today is our sensational summer variety — Vermentino.

Glasses of this fresh white wine now ornament the hands of the prettiest and most stylish young women in Italy, as well as the men who chase them.

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To be fair, the Vermentino grape has a lot more going for it than just being fashionable. The variety is increasingly making some of the world’s freshest and most expressive white wines. The intrinsically Mediterranean qualities and refreshing nature of Vermentino whites make them excellent summer wines.

In the all too often mindless conformity of the wine world, drinking Vermentino is a stylish way to express individuality.

The prevailing theory on the origin of Vermentino is that the variety is native to Spain, but recent DNA analysis suggests a close link to the Hungarian Furmint grape.

Scientists have also established that Vermentino is identical to the Pigato grape of Liguria, the Favorita grape of Piedmont and the Rolle grape in southern France.

In fact, there are more 40 different names for this grape. This confusing name game is one reason the variety has flown under the radar for so long.

The good news is that the growing popularity and marketability of Italian Vermentino wines is providing an incentive for producers around the wine world to adopt a unified terminology under the Vermentino name.

Italy makes the most and the best Vermentino wines, but is by no means alone. The most famous expression of this variety is Vermentino di Gallura and Vermentino di Gallura Superiore in northern Sardinia. These were the first DOCGs in Sardinia and many connoisseurs consider them the finest wines of Sardinia.

Other areas of the island also cultivate the grape and in general Vermentino wines from Sardinia are medium bodied with abundant zesty citrus and mineral qualities. They are also among the most weighty, complex and persistent Vermentino wines.

Three other Italian regions are also well known for their Vermentino wines. In the coastal region of Liguria, expressions of this grape tend to be light bodied with lively lemon-lime flavors and pleasant saltiness.

The famous wine regions of Piedmont in the northwest and Tuscany in central Italy are paying more attention to the grape and making increasingly impressive wines with excellent freshness and minerality. Like the wines from Liguria, Piedmont and Tuscan Vermentinos are usually lighter and fresher than Sardinian versions.

The south of France makes single variety and blended Vermentino wines with the best coming from Cotes de Provence. I’ve also tasted some inexpensive but decent new Vermentino wines from Languedoc.

A few well-known US producers are also getting on the Vermentino bandwagon. Mahoney Vineyards in Napa Valley and Tablas Creek in Paso Robles both make quality Vermentino wines that tend to be weightier than their Italian cousins but still retain the good acidity lovers of this variety crave.

Whether they originate from the New World or Old World, the best Vermentino vineyards are almost always located on slopes facing the sea. The reflective light from the water plays a role in ripening the grapes while the cool maritime breezes cool the vines and lengthen the growing season. These climatic factors result in fresher and more intense wines.

Available in Shanghai

Except in Italy and France, Vermentino wines are usually quite hard to find. This dearth in selection is especially apparent in Shanghai, but fortunately I was able to find three lovely wines available in local markets.

The Funtanaliras Vermentino di Gallura DOCG is a good example of why Sardinia is so respected for its Vermentino wines. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the name, neither can I; but this is a serious white wine with character. From the most prestigious Vermentino region, this wine has a light golden color with aromas and flavors of sweet grapefruit, bitter almonds and wild flowers.

A lighter, more delicate interpretation of our featured grape is the Acquagiusta Vermentino Maremma Toscana IGT. This single vineyard wine has a light straw color with hints of greens and delightful lemon-lime and floral flavors with a bracingly fresh mineral finish.

The Mazzei Vermentino di Toscana IGT is perhaps my favorite Vermentino from Tuscany. If you don’t know the name Mazzei then you don’t know Tuscan wines.

This family has been making wines since 1435 and today offers several of Tuscany’s finest traditional and modern styled wines. Mazzei’s Vermentino wine is light-medium bodied with abundant yellow peach, citrus and mineral flavors.

Vermentino wines do not age particularly well and are at their best when they’re freshest, so make sure you purchase a recent vintage and serve it quite chilled.

Good with seafood, dim sum

In the art of gastronomy, acidity and seafood are inseparable lovers who synergistically beautify each other. The amble acidity in all good Vermentino wines means they are spectacular partners to a wide range of delights from the sea. Mussels, clams, tiger prawns as well as elegant fish like turbot, grouper, sea bass and sole.

I also favor Vermentino wines while enjoying an afternoon dim sum meal as the freshness of the wines nicely offsets the various savory small dishes and keeps the whole experience of brunch or lunch quite light.

A few months ago in Italy I enjoyed a bottle of Tuscan Vermentino with an ample cut of grilled Mediterranean tuna steak sprinkled with freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and wild herbs. The combination was sublime.

So this summer I hope all my wine loving friends in Shanghai unabashedly strut their summer chic by enjoying a glass of nicely chilled Vermentino. More than merely a fashion statement, the wine is likely to sooth and refresh like a cool Mediterranean breeze.

WINES and fashion are similar in that both go in and out of style. Deliciously in vogue today is our sensational summer v

Glasses of this fresh white wine now ornament the hands of the prettiest and most stylish young women in Italy, as well as the men who chase them.

To be fair, the Vermentino grape has a lot more going for it than just being fashionable. The variety is increasingly making some of the world’s freshest and most expressive white wines. The intrinsically Mediterranean qualities and refreshing nature of Vermentino whites make them excellent summer wines.

In the all too often mindless conformity of the wine world, drinking Vermentino is a stylish way to express individuality.

The prevailing theory on the origin of Vermentino is that the variety is native to Spain, but recent DNA analysis suggests a close link to the Hungarian Furmint grape.

Scientists have also established that Vermentino is identical to the Pigato grape of Liguria, the Favorita grape of Piedmont and the Rolle grape in southern France.

In fact, there are more 40 different names for this grape. This confusing name game is one reason the variety has flown under the radar for so long.

The good news is that the growing popularity and marketability of Italian Vermentino wines is providing an incentive for producers around the wine world to adopt a unified terminology under the Vermentino name.

Italy makes the most and the best Vermentino wines, but is by no means alone. The most famous expression of this variety is Vermentino di Gallura and Vermentino di Gallura Superiore in northern Sardinia. These were the first DOCGs in Sardinia and many connoisseurs consider them the finest wines of Sardinia.

Other areas of the island also cultivate the grape and in general Vermentino wines from Sardinia are medium bodied with abundant zesty citrus and mineral qualities. They are also among the most weighty, complex and persistent Vermentino wines.

Three other Italian regions are also well known for their Vermentino wines. In the coastal region of Liguria, expressions of this grape tend to be light bodied with lively lemon-lime flavors and pleasant saltiness.

The famous wine regions of Piedmont in the northwest and Tuscany in central Italy are paying more attention to the grape and making increasingly impressive wines with excellent freshness and minerality. Like the wines from Liguria, Piedmont and Tuscan Vermentinos are usually lighter and fresher than Sardinian versions.

The south of France makes single variety and blended Vermentino wines with the best coming from Cotes de Provence. I’ve also tasted some inexpensive but decent new Vermentino wines from Languedoc.

A few well-known US producers are also getting on the Vermentino bandwagon. Mahoney Vineyards in Napa Valley and Tablas Creek in Paso Robles both make quality Vermentino wines that tend to be weightier than their Italian cousins but still retain the good acidity lovers of this variety crave.

Whether they originate from the New World or Old World, the best Vermentino vineyards are almost always located on slopes facing the sea. The reflective light from the water plays a role in ripening the grapes while the cool maritime breezes cool the vines and lengthen the growing season. These climatic factors result in fresher and more intense wines.

Available in Shanghai

Except in Italy and France, Vermentino wines are usually quite hard to find. This dearth in selection is especially apparent in Shanghai, but fortunately I was able to find three lovely wines available in local markets.

The Funtanaliras Vermentino di Gallura DOCG is a good example of why Sardinia is so respected for its Vermentino wines. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the name, neither can I; but this is a serious white wine with character. From the most prestigious Vermentino region, this wine has a light golden color with aromas and flavors of sweet grapefruit, bitter almonds and wild flowers.

A lighter, more delicate interpretation of our featured grape is the Acquagiusta Vermentino Maremma Toscana IGT. This single vineyard wine has a light straw color with hints of greens and delightful lemon-lime and floral flavors with a bracingly fresh mineral finish.

The Mazzei Vermentino di Toscana IGT is perhaps my favorite Vermentino from Tuscany. If you don’t know the name Mazzei then you don’t know Tuscan wines.

This family has been making wines since 1435 and today offers several of Tuscany’s finest traditional and modern styled wines. Mazzei’s Vermentino wine is light-medium bodied with abundant yellow peach, citrus and mineral flavors.

Vermentino wines do not age particularly well and are at their best when they’re freshest, so make sure you purchase a recent vintage and serve it quite chilled.

3E5CC195-EAA5-4F27-BA98-C1835CFF3A73.png


Good with seafood, dim sum

In the art of gastronomy, acidity and seafood are inseparable lovers who synergistically beautify each other. The amble acidity in all good Vermentino wines means they are spectacular partners to a wide range of delights from the sea. Mussels, clams, tiger prawns as well as elegant fish like turbot, grouper, sea bass and sole.

I also favor Vermentino wines while enjoying an afternoon dim sum meal as the freshness of the wines nicely offsets the various savory small dishes and keeps the whole experience of brunch or lunch quite light.

A few months ago in Italy I enjoyed a bottle of Tuscan Vermentino with an ample cut of grilled Mediterranean tuna steak sprinkled with freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and wild herbs. The combination was sublime.

So this summer I hope all my wine loving friends in Shanghai unabashedly strut their summer chic by enjoying a glass of nicely chilled Vermentino. More than merely a fashion statement, the wine is likely to sooth and refresh like a cool Mediterranean breeze.


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