The Vermentino grape

Today’s article is about a wonderful crispy and acidic grape varietal Vermentino (pronounced “ver-mehn-TEE-noh”), again from Italy. The best known Italian Vermentino is from northern Italy and the island of Sardinia. 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. Some say that Vermentino is possibly related to the Malvasia grape.

In this article we will discuss another one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country. Vermentino is not widely grown in the United States. The original vineyard source that supplied cuttings to be grafted to root stock is located in Paso Robles at the Tablas Creek Winery.

Tablas Creek brought the cuttings in from Italy and entered them into quarantine at the USDA station in Geneva, New York. In 1993, they were declared virus free and released to Tablas Creek. These cuttings are sold through nurseries, such as NovaVine in Santa Rosa which has exclusive rights to propagate and sell their Tablas Creek Vineyard Selections (TCVS), to vineyards throughout the United States. In fact, one of the bottles of wine that President Omaha gave to the Italian President Napolitano recently was a United States grown Vermentino. Specifically the wine that was given as a gift was from a Vermentino vineyard in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley made by Raffaldini Vineyards.

Vermentino is gaining in popularity among vineyard managers due to the grape being a vigorous grower, resistant to drought, and usually ripens towards the middle of the harvest cycle.

Wines made from Vermentino tend to be pale straw in color and relatively low in alcohol. The wines are generally crisp, dry and have a pronounced minerality. Flavors of green apple and lime are common.

The wine’s crispness makes it a delicious accompaniment to fresh seafood, oysters on the half shell or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.

In Temecula Valley, Vermentino is available in limited quantities as an estate wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road. The grapes are head pruned and also cordon trained. The wine is 100% varietal and finished extremely dry with flavors of lemongrass. This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. Cougar Vineyard & Winery has planted 3 year old vines on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country. Also growing Vermentino in Temecula Wine Country is a newly planted vineyard located at Ponte Family Estate. Ponte is located at 35053 Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country. Look for this varietal on Ponte’s tasting room menu in a few years. Cougar Vineyard & Winery and Ponte Family Estate are both members of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals with two thousand of the eighty five hundred vines planted being Vermentino. We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.