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Rolle grapes

by | Oct 13, 2016

Rolle or Vermentino is a blanc wine grape famous around the western Mediterranean region mainly along northwestern Italy, southern part of France and along the adjoining islands of Corsica and Sardinia.


Most often known by the name Vermentino, it is however also known by other names in different regions; Pigato in Liguria Favorita in Piedmont and Rolle in Provence etc.

Despite the taxonomical variety there still exists a debate about how many of these names are actually synonymous to the original name and how many of them are independent varieties on their own.

Due to the uncertainties about its genetic and geographical origin the above mentioned taxonomic ambiguity arises.

Wine grape varieties

In Liguria, Rolle forms the primary source of white wine. The bright and cool scenery of the Carrara marble queries are beautifully portrayed by the crisp freshness and the minerality of this wine.

No matter the name, Vermentino or Rolle is the number one ingredient for white wine around the French islands of Corsica.

The fruitful growth of these vineyards is seen in the regions of Patrimonio, Ajaccio, Figari, and Calvi and on the Cap Corse peninsula.

History of the Rolle Grape

While it is believed by many that the Rolle variety has hailed Spain from where it spread its vines later to Italy, many others believe just the opposite.

There is, however, a third hypothesis which suggests that these grapes might even have arrived to the Mediterranean from the Middle East via Greece.  Nonetheless, various scientific studies like DNA typing have confirmed that this variety is identical to Pigato and Favorita of the Liguria and Piedmont region.

Grown in many countries around the Mediterranean, the island of Corsica with its high altitude and hot climate provide ideal conditions for the growth of these vineyards. Rolle is best known for producing table wine due it its good sugar and acid balance.

Viticulture and wine making of Rolle grapes

This grape variety can be characterized by dark green, pentagonal leaves. Amber yellow grapes are found hanging from the pyramidal bunches in these vineyards.

In order to utilize the additional reflected light, these vines are often grown facing the sea. It is one of the easiest varietals to grow, owing to its vigorous growing rate.

These varieties are resistant to drought making them good for the wine market. The Rolle grapes usually ripen during the middle of the harvest cycle.

The wine making process involves fermenting these grapes by putting them in stainless steel tanks and keeping them away in the cellar.

This process ensures that the completion of malolactic fermentation is prevented. These steps help in retaining the bright citrus nature of the wine as well as its natural minerality.

Characteristics of the Rolle grape

Rolle wines are pale straw coloured with the crispiness of acids and low alcohol content. The citrus leaf aroma and the flavours of green apple and lime make this wine an especially delicious one.

This flavour is further heightened by the presence of pronounced minerality and refreshing acidity in the wine.  The most popular wine made from Rolle is DOCG Vermentino di Gallura, which is produced in the province of Olbina-Tempio.

The Italian DOC includes Vermentino Di Sardegna from the province of Sardinia, Colli di Luni Vermentino from the province of La Spezia in Liguria, Candia dei Colli Apuani from Massa Carrara province in Tuscany.

Patrimonia located in the north of Corsica, was the foremost region to attain the AOC status in 1968 producing 100% pure Vermentino white wine.  This grape is also used in Provence for the AOC white wines in Bellet.

A few small scale producers have started making Rolle in California, United States. However, this variety is yet to achieve its intended popularity.

Food pairings with Rolle Wine

Rolle is highly versatile and pairs brilliantly with anything fishy, herby or citrusy. It brings with it the essence of spring and summer drinking.

It tastes delicious with spring and summer greens and legumes like asparagus, peas, fava beans, fennels and artichokes (a variety of thistle that is grown for consumption as food).

It also pairs well with raw and slightly cooked vegetables like marinated and cooked vegetable marrow like courgettes, leeks dressed in vinaigrette oil and dishes where herbs are the primary constituent like pasta or gnocchi with pesto.

This wine does justice to the quote by Kenny Chesney “It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine; it is summertime”.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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