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Why Olly Smith is mad about Vermentino

It’s baffling as to why Vermentino never quite seems to have its day in the sun. It’s a white grape with the zap and flair of Sauvignon Blanc combined with the wide appeal of Pinot Grigio in bottles with price tags from bargain to blowout. 

But when was the last time you bought a bottle? Maybe it’s the name? Perhaps Vermentino just sounds too much like ‘vermin’. Happily, this grape is also known as Rolle, Pigato and Favorita – but I call it vital vino. 

I mean vital in the sense that it tastes incredibly vivid, like peach romping with a lemon in a Mediterranean herb garden. And also that it’s vital wine – you simply must taste it to believe. 

But be warned, it will take your palate through a portal from which there is no return. For a quintessentially Italian example, Colli di Luni Etichetta Grigia 2016 (12.5%) is £14.90 from 

It’s a sunbeam of a wine, an intensely delicious benchmark Vermentino. Or if you’re after a weeknight wonder, Morrisons Vermentino di Sardinia 2016 (13%) is just £6.50 for a lovely simple quaffer, or grab Mandrarossa Vermentino Sicily 2016 (12.5%), also £6.50 from The Wine Society: zesty as a tangerine. 

Price aside, geography has a big impact on the vibrancy of Vermentino. I’ve tasted some insanely good bottles from Australia – Chalmers Vermentino 2016 from Heathcote is as juicy as a fat ripe nectarine squishing an apricot. It’s a fair old spend at £17.50 (RRP) imported by Enotria, but stick it with Pad Thai for a filthy treat. 

But for those whistleclean wines as pristine and alluring as dancing through the stargate, Corsica, Sardinia, Provence, Liguria and Piedmont are your coordinates. And while fancy fare works wonders with Vermentino on restaurant wine lists, it’s my vital vino for good old fish and chips.