Where Does Vermentino Originate?
This question has attracted the interest of experts and enthusiasts alike: where was this Italian gem born? Ampelographers from all over the world are still trying to retrace its history, although data and evidence seem to complicate the situation even further. In Italy, it has spread to the western regions that border the Tyrrhenian Sea, then to the coast of Tuscany, to the Cinque Terre in Liguria, to the Colli di Luni and finally to almost the entire coastal territory of Sardinia. But how did it get here?
The first main theory is that this variety originated in Liguria, as Gallesio mentions in 1834 in his book ‘Pomona italiana’. He describes Vermentino and Vernaccia using the same terms, assuming that their origin was Italian and describing how the white wines were enjoyed and sold by the Genoese. Some experts therefore consider it to be an indigenous grape, which initially originated and spread throughout Italy, and eventually made its way to Corsica, Provence and Spain, and even as far as Madeira.
A second hypothesis, which is the most widely accepted, suggests that this white grape has migrated in the opposite direction. It might have been native to the island of Madeira in Portugal, formerly known as 'codega', and then spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula, southern France and finally to Italy. It is no coincidence, in fact, that it has several characteristics in common with the local Malvasia variety.
Some believe that the Argonese region in north-eastern Spain is its homeland, although it is no longer present there. Recent studies conducted by Mainardi, however, seem to disprove all previous theories and claim that its roots lie in the ancient Middle East, where the Arabs, who were skilled traders, exported it to western Europe.
All these controversies have been further complicated by recent genetic research, which has shown that the Favorita grape in Piedmont and the Pigato grape in Liguria are clones of this variety, even though they are listed in the National Register as native grapes.
Three Forms, Three Italian Expressions: One Grape
It is a multifaceted and versatile variety, which assumes different characteristics depending on where it grows, although it always reflects, through different shades, the Tyrrhenian soul of the Italian peninsula. Sardinian Vermentino is cultivated in almost all the provinces of the island, though its favourite area is undoubtedly Gallura, in the extreme north of the island. In this small piece of land, bordered by the Limbara and Monte Nieddu mountains, and exposed all year round to the currents of the Tyrrhenian Sea that shape the granite soil, DOCG white wines of great quality are produced.
These are full-bodied and intense expressions in most cases, developing a good alcohol content, such as Vermentino Superiore, and featuring an olfactory range that is characterised by citrus fruits and Mediterranean bush with pleasant salty undertones. The Alghero version is also worth mentioning, as it originates from soils with different morphological conformation and offers simpler and more immediate interpretations, while maintaining a Mediterranean and fruity flavour.
In the Liguria region, it is cultivated with heroic viticulture in the Ligurian Riviera of Ponente, the Gulf of Tigullio, the Polcevera Valley, the Cinque Terre and the Colli di Luni. The best grapes originate on the steep slopes that plunge into the deep Tyrrhenian Sea, giving life to a fresh and direct white wine, which is characterised by a delicate olfactory profile of juicy fruit, such as apples and peaches, white flowers and aromatic herbs, with hints of almonds. In recent years, a number of producers have been using the maceration technique to obtain a product that is richer and more complex in flavour and aroma.
The Tuscan Vermentino is mainly diffused along the Tuscan and Maremma coasts where it gives life to an elegant and fresh white wine, which develops a very characteristic mineral note, besides the typical scents of dried fruit and citrus.
For all lovers of fine food and wine, Callmewine offers a wide range of quality labels from all over the world. If you are looking for something to pair with your fish dishes, you can buy the perfect white wine for your occasion online. Discover the Vermentino prices, characteristics and pairings on the Callmewine online wine shop.