Tuscany’s Maremma area is the source for two vermentino wines that are so pleasant it nearly made me forget that this grape once punished me.
In the late 1990s, I spent a week tasting wines on the island of Sardinia. Its principal white wine is made from the vermentino grape. Each morning, afternoon, and evening I tasted highly acidic, lightly-flavored vermentino wines. By mid-week, I began to wonder what I did to offend Bacchus, the Roman wine god. Whatever it was, years passed before I put another glass of vermentino to my lips.
But the 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino SoloSole and the 2012 Vermentino Ammiraglia are delightful. And it’s no accident that both come from skilled wine families and sunny Maremma.
Poggio al Tesoro is a partnership of Marilisa Allegrini, who owns with her brother Franco the outstanding Allegrini winery in the Veneto, and Leonardo LoCasio, owner of the New Jersey-based, quality-driven Winebow distributorship and Italian wine import company.
In 2001, they purchased three plots consisting of 173 acres in prestigious Bolgheri, a village in northern Maremma near the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its soil and climate is conducive to a range of grapes, which in the hands of experienced wine people, has yielded some of Italy’s best wines.
Winemaker Nicola Biasi applied a straightforward winemaking process of fermenting the 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino SoloSole in stainless-steel tanks and aging it for five months. From my glass comes pleasant fruit and floral aromas that makes me anticipate the melon and lemon flavors, balanced and long.
SoloSole means “just sunshine.” The owners and winemaker captured Bolgheri’s sunshine in the fruit of the 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino SoloSole.
Winemaker Lamberto Frescobaldi is the 30th generation to lead Marchesi de Frescobaldi, one of the noblest families in the wine world. Its history dates to the year 1000, when it entered the banking world in medieval Florence. Since 1300 the family has been producing wine; today Marchesi de Frescobaldi owns five estates in Tuscany. The most recent, Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia was created in 2011 in Magliano, a village in southern Maremma.
The 2012 Vermentino Ammiraglia is also made in stainless-steel tanks, where it remains for four months before bottling. It has a substantial honeysuckle aroma, pronounced pear flavor and a slight sweet finish.
Both wines are the flipside of the vermentinos I experienced in Sardinia. I suggest pouring the 2012 Vermentino Ammiraglia as an aperitif or with mildly spicy foods. The 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino SoloSole will be a perfect mate to oven-roasted or steamed mussels, crab cakes, sushi rolls, and poultry dishes.
The 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino SoloSole and the 2012 Vermentino Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia retail for about $19.