‘Maremma is now the home of Vermentino’

Maremma has become the most important area for Vermentino wines in Italy, according to the chief winemaker of one of the region’s biggest producers.

rocca-di-montemassi

Zonin’s Rocca di Montemassi estate in Maremma (Photo: Zonin)

Alessandro Gallo, wine director at Zonin 1821 estate Rocca di Montemassi in Maremma, as well as Castello di Albola in Chianti, said no other white wine grape was more suited to the coastal region’s terroir.

“Today, Vermentino for me is the most representative wine of Maremma,” Gallo told db.

“If you ask me the representative wine in Maremma it’s difficult to say because there are many international varieties. Vermentino plantings grow because it is representative of the area.”

Vermentino is native to Italy, where it is most commonly associated with the Liguria region and Sardinia, however plantings are increasing in the Maremma region.

On the Zonin-owned Rocca di Montemassi estate in Maremma, Vermentino accounts for 30ha of plantings. The variety is also increasingly important in Bolgheri to the north.

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The main vine plantings on the Rocca di Montemassi estate took place between 2000 and 2005. It is situated in the Monteregio zone, a wine-producing district of long standing which, however, only gained DOC status relatively recently.

The zone itself constitutes a highly distinctive terroir between the shoreline and the local hills, with their rich metal deposits. The estate lies on the lower to mid-hillside slopes in the hamlet of Montemassi, part of the district of Roccastrada in Tuscany’s coastal Maremma area.

At present, Rocca di Montemassi cultivates 160 hectares of vineyards, selected from the estate’s total area of 420 hectares.

Indicative of what it views as the high potential of terroir-driven wines from the area, Rocca di Montemassi produces a single-vineyard Vermentino from the Calasole Vermentino DOC.

Vermentino on a Rolle
Vermentino, or Rolle, as it is known in southern France, where it is most widely planted, is thought to have been introduced to the French island of Corsica in the 13th or 14th century CE. The earliest recorded reference of the variety is from 1658, when it was planted in Montaldeo in the province of Alessandria in Piedmont, according to Wine Grapes.

The grape is indigenous to Italy, where it is most commonly planted in Liguria and Sardinia. However plantings in Tuscany are on the increase, with Maremma favoured as a growing site owing to the fresh, mineral style of terroir-driven Vermentino it is capable of producing.

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Rocca di Montemassi Vermentino Calasole DOC

Gallo explained how ‘Calasole’, the name of Montemassi’s single Vermentino vineyard site, refers to the cooling breeze that sweeps though the west-facing vineyard 10km from the Tyrrhenian Coast.

The vineyard is located in the village of Roccastrada on the site of an old lignite mine, with the soil containing a variety of beneficial minerals, contributing to a distinctively fresh style of wine.

“The ground is absolutely rich in minerals,” Gallo said. “The minerality, from the soil and the sea, you can feel in the white and the red. Sometimes in some areas of Maremma you have very strong wine, very deep wine, too much concentration. I don’t like this. We speak of ‘elegance’ in Chianti, in Montalcino; we have to try to invest this word elegance also in the area where it’s most difficult to have elegance.”

Maremma is often described as one of the most dynamic winegrowing areas in Italy, with many companies having bought vineyards and started wineries in the past two decades.

Principal white grape plantings include Vermentino, Viognier, Verdicchio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, even Riesling.

“It’s a big area – north to south about 60km,” Gallo added, “so there is a lot of changes you go through in terms of landscape and also temperature. Being north and near the coast you get the freshest styles of Maremma wines.

“Vermentino from the south of France tends to be rich and round and creamy, while this is steely, mineral and crisp. I think it represents the terroir of the area.”

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