Vermentino with ambition from Terenzuola

Vermentino, the white wine from Italy, is becoming increasingly popular. Meet Terenzuola, one of the pioneers, who does not want the wine to become a new pinot grigio.

—I don’t want vermentino to be a wine that you drink on the beach in slippers, says Ivan Giuliani.

That Ivan Giuliani from the farm Terenzuola in northern Tuscany, is a special person with great talent, was already evident when I tasted his vermentino Fosso di Corsano. A wine to remember. A wine that is an experience. Those moments that you dream of as wine taster. Fosso di Corsano is a wine with depth. It is full-bodied, with a nose of pineapple and passion fruit, peach and citrus. But also a salinity and an acidity that binds all elements together, without taking over. It’s big and light at the same time. Despite the body, you just want to have more.

—Over the years I have shared the knowledge that I have accumulated since the start in 1993. I have even given away vines to other producers. My goal is not to make millions of bottles, but I want to be a reference for vermentino and show what complex wines can be made from this grape, he says emphatically.

Today, the interest in this white grape is growing. It is associated with Liguria, Corsica, Sardinia and Tuscany. Especially in southern Tuscany the area increases from year to year. In Maremma DOC alone there are currently 747 hectares. But also Australia, California and Sicily have started growing vermentino and many predict that it will be a future bestseller on the international market.

—In Sardinia and south of Bolgheri, it is too hot and the grapes do not have enough acidity. The most interesting wines, I think, come from Corsica, Liguria, some places in Provence and in northern Tuscany, says Ivan.

Vermentino is often called rolle in France

Vermentino is often called rolle in France, copyright BKWine Photography

Vermentino thrives by the sea and is a grape that is related to the grape favorita in Piedmont, furmint and pigato.

—Vermentino is like merlot, it thrives almost everywhere but making a really good wine is difficult, says Ivan.

He believes that vermentino is a wine worth laying down and letting age, that over time develops aromas akin to, for example, riesling, with complex flavours of flint, gunpowder, pine trees and resin.

—Today, the trend is to make easy-drinking vermentino, sold at low prices, to be drunk within a year. But young vermentino has very little aromas and more and more people blend in for example gewurztraminer to make the wines appetizing, says Ivan.

He has a dozen different clones of vermentino on his 24 hectares and puts a painstaking effort into finding the right place for the right type of vermentino, a work he has done with the University of Pisa. He also harvests several times in the same vineyard to pick the grapes when they are perfect.

—In southern Tuscany, they sell the vermentino for 3.50 euros per bottle, while I have production costs of at least five euros per bottle, he says.

Terenzuola Vermentino Colli di Luni

Terenzuola Vermentino Colli di Luni, copyright A Johansson

He will soon release a wine that is ten years old, just to show how well vermentino develops.

—Vermentino requires careful handling in the wine cellar. It oxidizes easily and it is important to avoid contact with oxygen to retain the aromas. I leave my wines on the lees for at least four months to make the wines more complex and full-bodied.

To avoid contact with oxygen, he has also built a wine cellar on four levels and uses gravity to move the wine, without having to use pumps. After all, he got the opportunity to express his love for art and architecture, although he was not allowed to study it when young.

—I wanted to study architecture, but my parents didn’t think it was enough, so I had to study medicine or enrol in the economics, he says, with a shrug.

But life took a different turn than what the parents had expected and as a 21-year-old he came to Colli di Luni, the wine region located on the border between Tuscany, Liguria and Emilia Romagna.

—I have vineyards in all three regions, it is a lot of bureaucratic work, but I continue to work and try to get better every year. I don’t really like attention, I don’t even have a sign on the road, he says, laughing.

That Fosso di Corsano is a reference to how good a vermentino can be is no doubt. So who needs to wave signs when the wines speak perfectly well for themselves.

Read more about the producer:

Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. Asa writes regularly on wine and food in Swedish and Italian publications as well as online.

It is a special experience to taste the wines at their origin, where they come from. On a wine tour to Italy with BKWine you will taste many outstanding wines.

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This post is also available in: Swedish

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