The Wine Idiot Reviews: VINTJS Vermentino, 2015 ($7.99)
The last time I got one of these VNTJS bottles, it was a pinot noir and I was less than impressed. It, too, was somewhere in the $7-9 range, if memory serves, and for that price point you can actually find something pretty tasty. So I've steered clear from the VINTJS (but complete respect to whoever came up with that name, you are a god among men).
But I was picking up red wines for a steak night with my brother and his fiancé and hastily looking for one more bottle to throw in my cart for the future. I don't know why my eye landed on this, but I instantly went HUH? I honestly have never heard of Vermentino. After a couple glasses of those red wines, I kept referring to it as Valentino.
Odd name, TASTY WINE. It's a super pale yellow, like a pinot grigio, and smells vaguely lemony/citrusy, but nothing overpowering. It tastes rather dry, clean, and crisp--there are some fruit notes in there but like a citrus rind, not like a luscious juicy fruit. It sorta punches you underneath the tongue, but it definitely doesn't make your mouth pucker. If I was blindly tasting this sucker, I would swear it's sauvignon blanc. It's not as fruity as that Picton Bay; it might be closer to that Les Portes de Bordeaux. We all know I don't have the most sophisticated palate, but I think there is SOMETHING a tiny bit...herbaceous. (EDIT: I never do this. NEVER. But it's my fucking blog, and I don't want you expecting grassy and getting...whatever this is. After reading official reviews, what I'm tasting is MINERAL-NESS. Yesssssss. It's MINERALY.) Look, I don't know what that means any more than you do. I just mean it doesn't taste like a Starburst, it doesn't taste like wine-flavored water, and it sure as hell doesn't taste like chardonnay. You know how in a few reviews of sauvignon blanc, I have either smelled or tasted pear? There's no pear in this. And I wouldn't exactly say it screams of lemon, the way the Les Portes de Bordeaux does. Guys, maybe I'm just getting a bit tipsy but I am actually really digging this wine right now.
I would say that, at the end of the day, this would be a really interesting white wine alternative--when you don't want something buttery/oaky like a chardonnay, but you also don't want something as watery as a pinot grigio. I don't know exactly what the difference is between this and a sauvignon blanc, but I'm really enjoying it. I paired it with fish and vegetables for dinner and it was excellent. OK, yes. It was Gorton's Smart & Crunchy Breaded Fish Fillets and some Bird's Eye Steamfresh vegetable medley I CANNOT BE CLASSY EVERY SINGLE NIGHT YOU GUYS. But I bet it would be really good with, like, fish that doesn't come in oddly uniform shapes, too.
I know what you're thinking. "THAT GLASS IS AWESOME, WHERE CAN I GET ONE?" So a dear friend of mine recently launched her very own glassware company called ALKHOMI, and sent me a set of her first product line called "Coast." As you can see, the rim is slanted, and if you sip from the shorter end, the "bouquet" gets trapped in the longer end--and funneled straight into your nose. Great if your sniffer needs all the help it can get...like mine. Beautiful, right? Get your own set RIGHT HERE!
What the bottle says: "The Vermentino varietal is native to Italy and grown sparsely in America. This unique wine, grown in the Lodi Area with it's Delta Breezes [sic], is similar to it's Italian cousins with floral & lemon aromatics, orange & grapefruit notes with a touch of key lime pie on the palate leading to a lively finish."
What the Wine Idiot says: Guys. I was an English major. I'm APPALLED at this label, as it was ostensibly written by an American, so there's no translation issue here. Granted, my grammar is sorely lacking in these posts, but come on...the "rules" go by the wayside when one is blogging. When one is CREATING COPY TO GO ON A WINE LABEL, one should maybe have an editor. Just a suggestion. Anyway. I so fully agree with this creative-yet-apt description that I seriously thought about forgiving the errant possessives...but then I decided it could not stand.
Who's responsible for this? Vinted & Bottled by ABJ Wines, Geyserville, CA. So, look...I can't summarize this entire article for you (it is FASCINATING), but this part gives you a great idea of how Trader Joe's conducts their wine business: "The one part that the industry doesn’t like to talk about is who actually is making the private label wine, especially as they are less costly than their own labels. A recent check of various wines sold under the Trader Joe’s brand shows they were made by ABJ Wines in Geyserville, JBA Cellars in Rutherford and DNA Vineyards in Ukiah. Those “companies” keep the true winemaker hidden, though a parlor game exists among some wine aficionados on who really made it, especially if they discover a real keeper at a low price." The Wine Idiot does not dare suggest she knows that this is one of those "real keepers," but she strongly suspects it.
Do I need a corkscrew? Yup.
What do smarter people say about it? FIRST...I Googled Vermentino. I found this page, which describes thusly: "Because Vermentino is so unknown, you can find high quality wines for a great value." It also says it tastes like almond and daffodil. Sure. Why not. But quick question--WHO THE FUCK IS GOING AROUND TASTING DAFFODILS?
SECOND: Oh my god you guys please read this article and this one. I'm dying right now. I know NOTHING, but I'm gonna surmise that this bottle is an "Uvaggio" bottle. Am I wrong? PROBABLY, I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. But how many winemakers in Lodi are making fucking Vermentino???? Jim Moore, I super want to meet you:
"There has always been something of a Don Quixote in Jim Moore, winemaker/proprietor of Uvaggio, the winery formerly known by its full name, L’Uvaggio di Giacomo (“Jim’s grapes”). How else can you explain his impassioned, solitary crusade to turn the country on to Vermentino, an obscure (at least in the U.S.) grape grown in Northern Italy, the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and France’s Provence (where the grape is known as Rolle)? In Jim Moore’s world, every self-respecting American white wine lover should be drinking Vermentino, which he calls the “thinking man’s Pinot Grigio.”
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Yes. When are you coming over?