This month the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group talk about Italian grape varieties grown outside of Italy. Hope you can join the #ItalianFWT bloggers as we explore these grapes and the people who vinify them. We’ll be on Twitter Saturday, March 6, starting at 11 am ET. Simply follow the hashtag.
I love this topic and for years have been writing about it. Most recently I wrote an article about Vermentino around the world for an Italian magazine called Civilta del Bere. They publish long issues around grape varieties and other topics. As an avid Vermentino lover I jumped at the chance to write this piece. It was fun to write in Italian too. Here’s a link to the magazine: https://bit.ly/3praUjd.
While doing research for the article discovered that Vermentino is well loved not only in Italy in regions such as Liguria, Sardinia. Piedmont, and Tuscany where it’s plantings have increased considerably but also throughout many states in the US – California, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Mexico. It’s also widely grown in Corsica and in France under the name Rolle and in Australia.
A number of wineries really were happy and excited to talk to me about their Vementino incluing Jason Haas from Tablas Creek Vineyard. Located in Paso Robles, they are very well known for their Rhone Valley grapes and are also doing a great job with Vermentino since 2002.
According to Jason, “It’s one of the happiest grapes here. It thrives in the sun, is productive despite the rocks and the drought, and maintains its acidity beautifully despite the hot summer days. Honestly, I think it should be planted in most of the places California grape growers are currently planting Sauvignon Blanc.”
Haas told a story of how they ended up with it by mistake. “The French nurseryman who shepherded our grapevines from Beaucastel to the USDA’s quarantine program included two varieties that he loved without asking (or even telling) us. These were Tannat and Vermentino. When we finally traced it back to him, he explained that he’d been working with these grapes for years, and based on what he’d been learning about Paso Robles, they would do well here.”
Apparently they also won a competition for Vermentio at the first-ever international Vermentino tasting which took place in 2019 (details at http://www.concorsovermentino.com/vini-premiati-2020/).
He also sent me sample of the Vermentino. It was delightful, bursting with citrus fruits and hay aromas, it was a class stainless steel version of this grape. It had salinity and a stony fruit notes as well. It reminded me of Spring and Summer. Apparently they sell most of theirs through their wine club.
Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard also spoke with me about Vermentino in Oregon in Applegate Valley. They are a Biodynamic® Certified regenerative organic farm. Camp said that “Vermentino is the dream of every oenologist. It’s easy to plant and to grow, it is sensitive to few parasites. You can use stainless steel and/or wood.”
Southern American states such as North Carolina and Virigina also plant Vermentino. Jay Raffaldini of Raffaldini Vineyards has a version of Vermentino called Vermentino Superiore which he partially ferments in wood and he adds a perentage of dried grapes. His winery works with appassimento and notes that tourists love to see the process and love the final product. His neighbor in North Carolina in the Swan Creek AVA, a subzone of the Yadkin Valley AVA, Piccione also makes a Vermentino but they only use stainless steel and make a version that is very fruit forward and ready to drink immediately. Barboursville, the Zonin family winery in Virginia and their wonderful oenologist Luca Paschina have been making Vermentino for a while. I wrote about them here.
Vermentino in Texas and New Mexico is a post all on it’s own. Suffice it to say, this Italian grape has found a true home in America. Join us as we chat on Twitter. This is a list of what my #ItalianFWT colleagues are featuring:
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Cheesy Bites, a Colorful Board, and a Barbera…from California
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: Italian Grapes Grown Outside of Italy and Served Out of a Box? Che Diamine!!!
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork: Tuscany Meets Turkey with Chateau Murou Montepulciano Sangiovese
- Jeff at FoodWineClick!: Italian Grapes from Unti Vineyards at the Winter Grill
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog: A Splendid Cal-Ital: 2016 Giornata Nebbiolo Luna Matta Vineyard
- Jennifer at Vino Travels: Remy Wines: Italian Grapes in Oregon and a Winery After my Heart
- Terri at Our Good Life: Italian Grapes in Lodi Paired with Grilled Salmon Tacos
- Nicole at Somm’s Table: 2 Italian White Wine Blends Born in California
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator: Italy in California: from Aglianico to Zinfandel and Italy in California: Nebbiolo from Humboldt’s Terragena and Santa Barbara’s Silver
- Susannah at Avvinare: Vermentino, A Star In and Out of Italy
- Lynn at Savory the Harvest: Honoring An Italian American: Palmina Wines in Santa Barbara County
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass: Native Italian grapes find a home in the land of Pinot Noir