Another cheeky glass of wine at lunch is what’s inspired this post, and I am grateful that the little restaurant around the corner keeps its “by the glass” wine list fresh and interesting. Over the last week or two we’ve already had five or so fun varietals produced in Australia, but when I saw the Chalmers Vermentino 2010 on the list, I had to give it a try.
So first, Chalmers themselves. Founded in 1989 as a vine nursery, this family-run company has developed a unique understanding of the value of quality control vines. In conjunction with viticulturalists in Italy, they’ve brought scores of new varieties and new clones from Europe to Australia, giving Australian viticulturalists and winemakers a much broader range of choices when it comes to plantings.
In addition, they are one of the forces behind the Sangiovese Awards, which has now become the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, a hugely important showcase for lesser known grapes. Though the nursery was sold in 2008, the Chalmers family has turned to producing wine from some of they very varieties they championed. With a focus squarely on Italian grapes, they make varietal wines from Fiano, Sagrantino (red and rosato), Lagrein and Aglianico (as well as this Vermentino).
While they’re based in Victoria, they operate several vineyards and this wine in particular is GI Murray Darling NSW, which is the next state to the north. The Murray Darling region is defined by the two rivers that make up its name, and is broadly warm continental in climate, with little rain and irrigation providing moisture to the vines. Bulk wine is the destination of much of the produce of the region, though there are a few producers of quality wine.
Vermentino is a white, late ripening, Italian grape, most commonly associated with Sardinia, but also grown Liguria. It’s found in France as well, on Corsica, and possibly in Provence under the name Rolle, though not all ampelographers are convinced Vermentino and Rolle are actually the same grape. It has had decent penetration within Australia, with roughly 50 producers making varietals or blends.
This wine is a medium lemon colour in the glass, a bit fuller than the ISO white wine shade, with lemon and grapefruit on the nose. There’s a little blossom on the nose as well, and minerality to back it up. On the palate it’s very tart, which did make me ask at one point if that’s how it is supposed to taste. Really tart. But there were also bits of sunflower and lime flavours that were very pleasant. The body was light and crisp, and while the finish was short, it was clean and fresh. This is a good wine for salty and/or spicy foods. I enjoyed it and would recommend it for someone wanting something tart. While not hugely complex, and with dominating acidity, it’s not for everyone, but it could be just the thing paired with strongly spicy food.