Life is a journey … and so is wine. When the weather warms up, I know we’ll all be reaching for more white wines. The question, of course, is which whites will those be? Are we all going to be predictable and reach for … Chenin Blanc, … Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay and the occasional oddball, or is it time to begin to think outside the box?
If we take our cue from producers worldwide, we might want to begin thinking a bit more about Vermentino. I recently sampled Vermentino from Oregon, North Carolina, Australia and Lodi, California, as well as Liguria, Sardinia and Tuscany, where the wines are more typically produced.
That’s a wide expanse, but Vermentino is well-suited to being produced globally, being a vine that tends towards good vigor, even in times when the season is less than ideal. The grape tends to ripen in mid-season, retaining considerable acidity (modest acidity even when grown in warmer climates) and displaying trademark citrus flavors and aromas in a medium-bodied style that work wonderfully at revealing terroir.
The marriage of precise citrus flavors and the ability to reveal great minerality is what sets Vermentino apart from many other varieties. But at the same time one should keep in mind that this is a relatively simple wine—and by no means am I saying that simple means bad. Chilled and set as a foil for chilled seafood, for example, Vermentino can really excel at the dinner table; and it’s an easy drinking and refreshing option for just sipping on the patio as the sun goes down.
Too much of our time is spent searching out life-changing wine experiences. Our lives would change much more, and for the better, if we just enjoyed the little spark of happiness a lovely wine can add to an ordinary evening.
As with most grapes, when it comes to Vermentino, one must tackle both the producer learning curve and the effects of terroir. It’s refreshing to see winemakers not trying to force Vermentino to be something it’s not, though there have been missteps in the past. Lightness is the nature of the variety, and while some producers still manage to extract as much as possible from the grape, obscuring the wine’s innate detail, a global consensus seems to be forming, a consensus that Vermentino should be light and fresh, perhaps a bit salty in some places, more floral in others, but always snappy and focused.