Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

{ White Wine }


Vermentino, grown for ages in Corsica and the southeast between Avignon and Fréjus and known as Rolle, seems to have come from Italy. However, some experts believe it to be of Spanish origin, based on the Malvoisie variety, which is believed to have mutated many times. As Malvoisie is a synonym for several varieties, it seems more likely that Vermentino is of Italian origin.

The aromas of Vermentino wines are highly alluring, blending floral notes such as hawthorn and lime blossom with fresh pear, often with a hint of lemon or melon. Fresh, leafy notes sometimes round out this pleasing aromatic profile.

Wines produced
Vermentino makes white wines of excellent quality, as they are powerful, deep, intensely aromatic and quite silky on the palate. As well, the wines are of a beautiful, pale, crystalline color. These subtle, balanced wines can lack acidity if yields are too high.

Areas planted
Vermentino is a Mediterranean grape variety and in France is found only in this littoral region. It is most commonly grown in Corsica, but is also often found in the southeast around Avignon and Aix and as a secondary variety in the southwestern Mediterranean littoral. In Corsica, it is regularly referred to as “Corsican Malvoisie”. Production increased from 1,050 hectares in 1979 to 3,100 hectares in 2006, and the variety is a big hit with wine drinkers.

Budding and ripening
Vermentino is a late variety that requires a lot of heat to reach peak ripeness. It blooms 9 days after Chasselas, the benchmark variety. Vermentino is a Period II variety that fully ripens 3 1/2 weeks after Chasselas.

This is a quite productive and vigorous grape variety that must be pruned short. In these conditions, it resists well against the very dry climates of the Mediterranean perimeter. Careful training is recommended in order to maintain the vegetation, especially in windy climates.

Preferred soils
This southern grape variety is well suited to warm areas and the dry, low fertility soils of the Mediterranean perimeter.

Ideal Climate
Vermentino is a late ripening Mediterranean grape variety, meaning it is suited to hot, sunny climates. The best Vermentino is produced on the French littoral, as well as on the islands, where temperature fluctuations are largely tempered by marine breezes, as is the case in Corsica.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
Vermentino is somewhat susceptible to gray mold, moderately susceptible to acid rot, and quite susceptible to Oidium. It therefore does not fare well in humid soils.

Vermentino is used only to produce wine.

Distinctive features
Vermentino's young shoots are densely covered with flat-lying hairs. Its young leaves are yellow, whereas its adult leaves are dark green and orbicular. The leaves have five or seven lobes and a petiolar sinus that is only slightly open or has slightly overlapping lobes. The lateral sinuses are well-defined and deep. The lobes have clearly distinct teeth with rectilinear sides, and are long compared to their width at the base. There is little anthocyanic pigmentation of the veins. The leaf blade is jagged and bubbled with a slight waffle-like texture. The underside of the leaf has a moderately dense coat of flat-lying hairs and a few upright hairs. Vermentino's bunches and berries are both large, and its berries are oblong.

Clones marketed
The fourteen approved Vermentino clones (specifically named Vermentino B) are numbers 639, 640, 766, 795, 856, 876, 912, 913, 914, 915, 963, 964, 1081 and 1082. A conservatory with some fifty clones was set up in the vineyards of Corsica in 2005.

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