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Friday 16 September 2022

Vermentino and the grapes of wrath

The wine industry in Europe is full of rage right now.

In Italy there is outrage that other countries use the name Prosecco for their sparkling wines. And ongoing moves to prevent it. 

And in France there is anger that they can no longer use the grape name vermentino on their wine labels.

Which is is odd, because - as Jancis Robinson points out - the French have only relatively recently adopted the use of the name vermentino.

Rolle has traditionally been the southern French name for vermentino, Sardinia's flagship white grape variety.

The wine industry is, of course, awash with grape varieties that have different names in different countries. One man's grenache is another man's garnacha, and one woman's pinot noir is another's blauburgunder.

Either way, the producers in the Languedoc are very unhappy, with several speaking out to trade publication Drinks Business this week.

Jacques Bilhac, owner of Domaines d l’Aster in Pézenas, said a lot of producers in the Languedoc grow vermentino and use the name on labels.

“France makes similar volumes of vermentino as they do in Italy, and we have always called it vermentino - we have been promoting it for ages, and the consumer is starting to recognise it,” said producer Jean-Claude Mas.

The Italians apparently based their successful argument to the European Union on the fact that vermentino is part of existing Geographical Indicators (GI) in Italy, both of which are Sardinian: Vermentino di Gallura and Vermentino di Sardegna.

Vermenino is actually called favorita in Piedmont and some other parts of Italy - but that is another story for another day.    

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