Originally from Sardinia and doing very well in maritime wine districts such as McLaren Vale.
Vermentino is a relatively unknown white wine hailing from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Today it’s predominantly grown in Italy (Sardinia) and France, although small plantings are beginning to take root right here in Australia. James Halliday classifies this varietal as ‘’one of the most widely propagated alternative varieties in Australia." Light-bodied yet complex, vermentino is an intriguing proposition for white wine drinkers, and is slowly making a name for itself amongst Australia’s more experimental oenophiles.
Vermentino is made in two styles – one is lighter with distinct floral and citrus notes, while the other is slightly richer and creamier (but only to a middling degree – this is a light-bodied grape after all). It’s this compound that adds the creamy flavour and buttery texture to the mix. Production methods aside, the taste of vermentino is best described in two words: it’s complicated. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll look at the most popular type: the vermentino of Sardinia. The experience is kicked off with aromas of pear, grapefruit, lime and peach, with a hint of gravel-like earthiness. The tart grapefruit and lime flavours will be even more pronounced when your taste buds get involved, with an undercurrent of almost salty minerality evening out the more bitter notes. This all leads to a distinctly sharp finish that some might describe as green almond. Specifically those who have accidentally eaten unripe almonds
The most common comparisons are made with sauvignon blanc, as it is another light-bodied white that can offer up serious complexity. These two wines also share a fairly similar flavour profile, so if you enjoy a nice sauv blanc, it’s more than likely that you’ll also be partial to a vermentino.
Vermentino is most definitely on the dry end of the sweetness spectrum. It is a naturally tart and acidic grape, and zero residual sugar is added during the production process (generally speaking), so sweet tooths would be wise to look elsewhere.
Oily, salty and bitter – if vermentino were a person, it’s likely that you wouldn’t want to have a meal with it. Thankfully it’s a wine, and because of those exact characteristics it’s one that makes a particularly good tablemate. Its complexity and intensity makes it the perfect match for richer fish that other whites might struggle with, including halibut, herring, mackerel and salmon. Its Italian roots mean that it pairs excellently with creamy pastas and garlic-rich dishes, while Mexican cantina fare like chicken tacos will also match wonderfully well (squeeze some lime over the top to make those vermentino flavours pop!)