Just another weird weather day in early January, it was 78 degrees and sunny today in Houston. So to pair with Joe’s Mediterranean fare of broiled lamb ribs, homemade hummus, falafel and tomato cucumber salad, with a complement of nan with yogurt and dill sauce, we selected a Vermentino from our wine chiller. An October 2008 club selection from Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant (FPWM), this crisp Italian white comes from the Perolla estate near the Tuscan coast.
Vermentino wines are typically a pale straw color with crisp acids, citrus-leaf aromatics, and pronounced minerality. In the mouth, Vermentino tastes of green apple and lime, heightened by refreshing acidity and medium body. Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant club notes indicate:
This wine is made from Vermentino grown without the aid of pesticides in the pristine Maremma Toscana, which stretches along the coast of southern Tuscany. The maritime climate and the careful fruit selection contribute to the creation of a clean, crisp Vermentino with its typical citrusy lime flavors and touch of minerals.
I immediately tasted the grassy notes of Sauvignon Blanc with a clean lemon-lime, and the label confirmed 15% added to the 85% Vermentino. FPWM’s Jeff Prather also says that it is the perfect counterpoint to shellfish, crab, avocado salads, and rich cheeses.
The Vermentino grapes for this wine come from the Perolla tenuta (estate) in the Maremma (Massa Marittima, Grosseto) owned by Agricola di San Felice. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from Campriano vineyard on the properties of Agricola San Felice (Castelnuovo Berardenga, Siena)
The Vermentino Grape
The Vermentino grape is thought to have originated in Spain. Currently grown in several countries around the Mediterranean, its best known examples come from northern Italy (particularly in the region of Liguria) and the island of Sardinia, where the wines are crisp, citrusy and generally unoaked.
It is also the most widely planted white grape on the island of Corsica, where high altitude and hot climate vineyards produce more full-bodied wines with heady floral aromas. On the French mainland (where the grape is known as Rolle), it is found in Côtes de Provence and, increasingly, in Languedoc.
For many years Vermentino was best known for producing table grapes – perfect choice for sweet snacking, with their good balance of sugar and acid.
Terroir, Vinification and Maturation
The vines for the Vermentino used in this vintage were planted in 1995 at an altitude of 100 meters (about 328 feet) where the soil is medium-textured, largely clay on sandstone rock. Sauvginon Blanc vines were planted in 1988 and grown at an altitude of 400 meters (or around 1,312 feet) in medium-textured soils with an abudant gravel-pebble admixture.
After the grapes are picked by hand, the must macerates at 8° C for 24 hours and then receives a cool fermentation. The wine matures “sur lie” for about one month to develop aromatic complexity, and is then filtered and bottled, and finally ages 2 months in the bottle.
Sur lie (French) literally means ‘on lees’; lees being the yeasty residue remaining in the cask after fermentation. ‘Sur lie’ wines are bottled directly from the lees without racking (a process for filtering the wine), giving an added freshness and creaminess to the wine.
By the Numbers
For those of you obsessed with numbers, alcohol content is 12.5%. Suggested serving temperature is about 54° F (12° C).
Listed for tasting in its Italian Whites report in the August 31, 2008 issue of Wine Spectator magazine WS gives this reasonably priced Italian white a score of 86 in its 2008 online only ratings. FPWM sells it for $13.50 per 750 ml bottle. With only 3,875 cases made, you might want to pick a bottle up while you have the chance.
~ Amy Corron Power,
aka Wine Wonkette