What is Vermentino?
Vermentino (pronounced ver-mehn-TEE-noh) is an aromatic Mediterranean white grape variety with origins in Italy. It can go by other names as well, depending on the country or even region of Italy. For example, it’s known as rolle in France, pigato in Liguria and favorita in Piedmont. Whatever its name, it often boasts flavours of lime, grapefruit, green apple, almond and daffodil.
Where Does Vermentino Grow?
The vermentino grape is widely planted in Corsica and Sardinia, as well as in the coastal arc that runs from Tuscany through Liguria in Italy and into southern France. However, it’s from the mountains of Sardinia that we see some of the best expressions of this wine. The grape performs well in warm to hot growing conditions, so it does very well in Australia, too. Here, you’ll find it from McLaren Vale and Riverland in South Australia to the Central Ranges of New South Wales. There’s even some grown in our own Hunter Valley.
Styles of Vermentino
Vermentino is a variety with good acidity, and winemakers can make it in several styles. For example, vintners can achieve a lighter aromatic style with light pressing and cool fermentations – generally without skin contact or oak maturation – to highlight the variety’s fresh fruit and acidity. Grown at altitude, the fruit for this style of wine has more power but also brings texture. To add complexity to the wines, winemakers typically ferment them in barrels.
Characteristics of Vermentino
Vermentinos have aromas of pear, stone fruit (think peach), grapefruit, citrus peel or zest, and dried herbs, as well as a signature saltiness or sea-spray character. The palate is almost always dry, with somewhat oily flavours of citrus and green apple, as well as a crushed-rock minerality and a hint of saltiness. High levels of phenols contribute to a sometimes-subtle bitterness on the finish. In lighter styles, it can have a taste reminiscent of grapefruit pith. In riper, fuller styles, you can detect something akin to a fresh ‘green’ almond.
What to Eat with Vermentino
A refreshing crispness heightens the green apple and lime features of the lighter, fresher styles of vermentino. This makes these wines delicious accompaniments to fresh seafood, including freshly shucked oysters, grilled octopus, and grilled sardines. Vermentino likes its Italian cheese counterparts as well, such as ricotta and pecorino. The richer styles, on the other hand, match perfectly with medium-weight dishes that incorporate rich herbs and spices. Try them with fennel sausage or chicken tacos. Vermentino also pairs nicely with garlic-rich dishes, such as spaghetti with pesto or seafood linguine.
David Hook Vermentino
David has dabbled with alternative varietals for many years. He’s been one of the early adopters of this style, and although we make only a small parcel, wine lovers eagerly seek it out.
In 2021, we’ve made two different David Hook Vermentinos. The first is from the warmer Hunter Valley, which is moderated by maritime influences. The other is from the cooler Central Ranges region of NSW, and that one grows at altitude on the slopes of Mount Canobolas in Orange. Although we picked both wines at similar ripeness, the wines reflect the differing growing conditions of their regions as well as winemaking techniques.
We whole-bunch-pressed the 2021 Hunter Valley Vermentino before it was cold-settled, racked and cool-fermented in stainless steel. We stored the wine on lees in tank for three months before bottling. The resulting wine is pale straw in colour with slight green tinges. It has aromas of orange blossom, ripe nashi and flint in the background. The palate is rich, with ripe citrus flavour, and the wine finishes with a touch of salinity and a slight pithy grapefruit bitterness. This is the one that’s perfect with our grilled sardines recipe (though both work well).
We also whole-bunch-pressed the 2021 Central Ranges Vermentino, draining the juice directly into older French barrels for fermentation. We left the wine in barrels on lees for three months before a course of filtration and bottling. This wine is pale yellow in colour with bright green tinges. It features aromas of fresh fruits, spice and herbs. The palate is flavoursome with some salinity, a slight phenolic bitterness and a crisp stony spectrum finish. It’s a great wine to match with meals that also highlight herbs and spices.
Both wines are ready for you to enjoy now, but keep one for the cellar – it will be interesting to watch them change and develop over the next couple of years.
Visit our online shop to try both of our vermentinos and perhaps some of our other Italian varietals, such as our 2021 David Hook Hunter Valley Pinot Grigio or our 2019 David Hook Central Ranges Sangiovese.