Vermentino is a white grape varietal, primarily found in Italy. It is widely planted in Sardinia, in Liguria - where it is known as Pigato, it is also found in Corsica, in Piedmont where it goes under the name Favorita, and is also found in increasing amounts in Languedoc-Roussillon of southern France.
Different hypotheses about the origin of Vermentino have been forwarded, and only recently has DNA testing confirmed Vermentino to be identical to the Pigato of Liguria and Favorita of Piedmont, superseding some earlier hypotheses. The Vitis International Variety Catalogue has recently recorded Italy as its origin. It is unclear if Vermentino is also identical to the grape variety Rollo found in eastern Provence, around Nice, which along with the variety Vermentino go under the synonym Rolle.
The most famous wine made from Vermentino is probably the DOCG Vermentino di Gallura (and Vermentino di Gallura Superiore) which is produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, in the north of Sardinia.
The grape is said to have been cultivated in this part of Gallura, often under the name Arratelau, since the fourteenth century. Elsewhere on the island the grape is used for a variety of white wines, including sweet and sparkling style wines. The grapes are amber-yellow in colour and hang in pyramidal bunches. The vines are often grown on slopes facing the sea where they can benefit from the additional reflected light.
Vermentino typically exhibits racy, citrus and mineral characters - made as a refreshing dry wine, usually un-oaked and with moderate alcohol. This is essentially a Mediterranean grape variety, retaining its acidity well even in relatively warm regions. It is the dominant white wine grape of Sardinia and Corsica plus straddling from Italy across to France. The variety is widely grown through southern France, where it can produce much livelier wines than some of those made from fuller-bodied varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Viognier.
Vermentino wines are generally light and crisp with a soft hint of colour, sharing many characteristics with the Malvasia grape to which some believe Vermentino is related. The resulting wines are relatively inexpensive and pair extremely well with varied seafood cuisine.