‘Sardinia,’ said DH Lawrence, ‘is another thing’, and he was right. It is the most Mediterranean of Italian regions. The sea dazzles and the tenacious marquis vegetation basks in the long, baking hot, dry summers. It is in these conditions that Vermentino, the most Mediterranean of varieties, has found an ideal habitat. Vermentino is a sunshine variety: impervious to heat and drought, it has the inestimable quality of maintaining aroma and sugar-acidity balance throughout its long ripening season, offering producers many and various options of interpretation, from sparkling to still, to late-harvest and even dessert wines.
Vermentino can be young, fresh and crisp, or rich, full-bodied and complex. Cooler sites bring out the more floral side of its character; warmer ones its rich, ripe fruit. The common denominators across the spectrum are the nuances of Mediterranean scrub on the nose and a trademark mineral, even slightly saline, quality which gives Vermentino its tangy intensity.
First documented in the region in the 19th century, today more than three-quarters of all the Vermentino grown in Italy comes from Sardinia, with production divided between two denominations: the island-wide Vermentino di Sardegna, and the geographically more specific Vermentino di Gallura.
Vermentino di Sardegna
Vermentino di Sardegna is the island’s longest established denomination for the variety. Production is concentrated mainly along the coast and in the areas immediately inland in the central and southern provinces of the region, where vineyards benefit from the cooling effects of the almost constant north and northwesterly winds. Soils may vary significantly – the DOC lists six principal types – which, along with elevation, is one of the main influences on the character of the wines.
The DOC produces wines which fall into two broad categories: on one hand an appealing light, fresh, summer picnic style white, and on the other a complex, full-bodied style which asks for sophisticated food matches. Cooperatives historically play an important quality role but recent years have also seen an increase in the number of small to medium size independent producers with distinctive styles.
Vermentino di Sardegna wines
Antonella Corda, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
Agronomist Antonella Corda founded this 16ha estate in 2016. Her organically grown Vermentino from the excellent 2020 vintage has a complex floral, herby nose and expressive white and yellow fruits on the elegantly refined palate.
Cantina di Ogliastra, Sarala, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
This cooperative brings together 200 small growers in the province of Nuoro. The speciality is the red Cannonau, but they also produce this round, medium-bodied Vermentino with an attractive floral nose and tangy notes of lime on the palate.
Cantina di Santa Maria La Palma, Aragosta, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
This long-established cooperative at Alghero produces an extensive range of whites and reds. The flagship Aragosta label is attractively light, fresh and citrussy, with notes of mandarin and almonds on the palate and a minerally finish.
Cantina di Mogoro, Don Giovanni, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
One of the island’s longest established cooperatives, the winery sources grapes from hillside vineyards in the southern province of Oristano. Don Giovanni is firmly structured with fern and bracken aromas, good depth of flavour and a savoury finish.
Carpante, Frinas, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
This young estate has vineyards on calcareous marl in hills at Usini in the province of Sassari. Its Vermentino is a full-bodied white with an intense ripe tropical fruit character, great depth of flavour and a concentrated grapey finish.
Chessa, C’era Una Volta, Vermentino di Sardegna 2018
Chessa is a 15ha, hillside estate at Usini in the province of Sassari. This is the first release of its rich and full-bodied late-harvest Vermentino, with succulent ripe fruit and an array of Mediterannean scrub aromas.
Dorgali, Filine, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
Located on the east coast in the province of Nuoro, Dorgali is one of the island’s oldest and biggest cooperatives. This low-yield Vermentino from hillside vineyards has a very attractive floral nose with intense yellow fruit on the palate.
Ferruccio Deiana, Arvali, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
Oenologist Ferruccio Deiana runs this family-owned estate in the southern province of Cagliari. His Vermentino has a floral, hedgerow nose, with white fruit on the palate, good body and intensity, and a tangy finish.
Mesa, Opale, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
This estate at Sulcis on the southwest tip of the island is part of the Santa Margherita group. Opale, partly fermented in barriques, is a satisfyingly full-bodied Vermentino with a fleshy, tropical fruit character well supported by juicy acidity.
Olianas, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
This 24ha organic estate is the result of a joint venture between Erminio Olianas and Tuscan producer Stefano Casadei. The 2019 has intriguing aromatic herbs on the nose and a firmly structured, vertical palate with great length.
Podere Parpinello, Sessantaquattro, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
Oenologist Gianpaolo Parpinello and son Paolo run this third-generation winery at Alghero. The 2019 vintage of their top selection has bracken and lemon rind aromas, a briskly structured palate and a lingering savoury, mineral finish.
Sella & Mosca, Cala Reale, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
Founded in 1899 and acquired by the Moretti group in 2017, Sella & Mosca is the region’s biggest privately-owned wine estate. The limited production, organically grown Cala Reale is soft and agile, with enticing notes of acacia and fresh white fruit. (Tannico £14.76)
Tenute Asinara, Indolente Vintage Grazia, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
This large modern estate owned by the Sassu family overlooks the Gulf of Asinara. From high density, low yielding vineyards they produce this Vermentino with complex Mediterannean herb aromas and mouthwatering almond and lemon rind flavours.
Tenute Delogu, Die, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
This modern wine estate and luxury resort sources its Vermentino from vineyards on ferrous-calcareous soils at Alghero, producing a wine with notes of fresh white blossom, a touch of seaweed, and a food-friendly mineral undertone.
Vigneti Zanatta, Orion, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
Orion is one of three Vermentinos from the estate, each with its own distinctive character. The unoaked Orion has notes of pear skin and almonds on the nose, while on the palate it’s appetisingly soft and dry, with good intensity on the finish.
Viticoltori di Romangia, Sabbia, Vermentino di Sardegna 2020
A small cooperative with vines on low, sandy slopes facing the Gulf of Asinara, the Viticoltori di Romangia specialise in Vermentino. Their top selection has the typical aromatic herb aromas of the variety and a bone-dry palate with a minerally finish.