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Vernaccia of San Gimignano

A Great White Wine

in a land known mainly for its reds

A time line would start with the arrival of the Greeks in the Livorno port, where they traded all kinds of “exotic” flavors including that of a very particular white grape - and the base of the Vernaccia wine. We can gallop along the timeline to the 1200’s, where the world of literature produced a very prominent fanclub, including authors like, (Italian) Dante & Boccaccio, (French) Eustache Deschamps & Jean Froissart and even the English: John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer.

La Lastra in San Gimignano, and their organic vernaccia white wine

In the 1400’s we see a spike in price, attesting to its popularity and quality, and in the 1500’s even the Pope jumped on the Vernaccia bandwagon. The 1600’s were considered the “Golden Age” for the wine especially after Francis Scott, author of the first “guide” to Italy for travellers taking the grand tour commented on the “fine vernaccia” which goes very well with the towers of San Gimignano.

In the 1700’s we see a decline in favor with the adoring masses “with arrival in Europe of exotic new beverages, tea, coffee and chocolate, along with the spread of liqueurs”. It declined so much so that when it finally came back into “moda” the original grape vines could only be found by searching back yard vineyards long abandoned by their producers.

Vernaccia di San Gimgnano celebrates 50 years

An attempt to resurrect the wine in the 1930’s was (unfortunately) blocked by the spread of WWII - however, in the 1960’s it rose to take its place on the Italian register of wines to remember. Just last year Vernaccia di San Gimignano celebrate 50 years of fabulous wine making.

In 1966, it was the first Italian wine to attain the “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” [Denomination of Controlled Origin]. ... a new boost to production, which grew progressively in terms of quantity and quality, attaining the Docg [Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin], the highest acknowledgement of the Italian legislation currently in force, in 1993.

Did you know?

->Vernaccia is actually a generic grape, so be sure to be precise and ask for vernaccia di San Gimignano
->Originally harvested in the end of September the dramatic change in climate has permanently pushed the date up to the end of August & the beginning of September
->The boundaries of this white wine correspond with the that of the comune of San Gimignano

What makes this wine great?

undoubtedly the terroir

Terroir means the soil from which the vines and grapes draw minerals and thus flavor. The dirt in this area is filled with fossils and therefore is composed of pliocene soil and clay - shells and remnants of the ancient of the Ligurian sea which lapped up against the peaks in Tuscany. The mineral composition give the wine it's charactistically dry taste with crisp acidity and a slightly bitter finish.

The color will range from pale straw yellow, tending to golden with aging. It is served chilled (12ºC) and goes very well with pasta dishes in white sauces, various fried dishes (especially anchioves), fish, eggs and white meat. Excellent as an aperitif!

These extremely calcareous sediments make the soil ideal to create vigorous and mineral white wines.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano, white wine of Tuscany

There are three categories of Vernaccia di San Gimignano: annata, selezione and riserva.

Annata

This is the most common, and for many producers the only wine they make. Normally, in fact rarely, the “annata” type of wine has no oak fermentation or ageing.

Labelled solely with the name of the DOCG, these wines are typically crisp and light and often finish with an appealing hint of bitterness, which makes them very food-friendly but less useful as an aperitif.

Selezione

Translated this word means select, as in a select vineyard, sometimes with a bit of ageing or varying production methods to enhance the flavor of the grapes which will soon become wine.

Generally the “selezione” wines have more density without being heavy, and greater complexity along with an alluring texture.

Riservas

These are aged for an additional year and almost always undergo barrel fermentation and/or ageing. The edgy verve of the annata or selezione is replaced by a roundness that, in the wrong hands, can border on heaviness.

Wine Tasting

Here are just a few ideas for a wine tasting:

La Lastra

This is truly an opportunity for those who are passionate about learning from the roots up to the barrels.  With a vineyard in San Gimignano and one just outside of Siena, you will be savoring not just organic vernaccia but also a few other specialities.

Read more about their wine tasting experience

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Arrigoni 1913

The family has planted about forty hectares of vineyards in this wonderful territory closely guarded by the towers of San Gimignano. A perfect mixture of  exposure to the sun, as well as as the composition of the soil of a finite and delicate structure create a delicious opportunity.
Official Website for wine tasting

San Donato

Accordong to this vineyard, wine is not just a drink but something be smelled, tasted and talked about. Fattoria San Donato offers special activities devoted to the promotion of its products and of the Tuscan eno-gastronomic culture and tradition.
Official Website for wine tasting

La Torre Fattoria

The wine bar at La Torre Fattoria, offers a special and unique opportunity for a mixing history with wine.  The farm, which takes its name from the antique 10th Century Medieval tower, is eager to show off their vernaccia: a clear golden colour with straw yellow undertones with an intense, and slightly floral aroma.
Official Website for wine tasting

Fattora Fugnano, vernaccia San Gimgnano wine tasting

Fattoria di Fugnano

The tour is led by those who truly live the countryside, presenting the flavors with passion, the very same enthusiasm that they dedicate to their vineyard and wine. The cellar is always open and visitors can partake in free wine tastings. It is also possible to book for a more formal wine tasting.
Official Website for wine tasting

Fattoria Poggio Alloro

Here you will find a variety of offeres, according to your preferences.  Conclude the tasting with an interesting tour of the farm, and get to know not only their story, the various productions but learn a about their special Grappa di Vernaccia al Saffron.
Official Website for wine tasting

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Museum: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Experience La Rocca

The name of the structure is a statement of what it wants to be: a place where you come in direct contact and up close with wine, which is not just tasting but also on an emotional level. In Tuscany it is a unique and original experiment, it is the first reality managed by producers using the most technological and multimedia means to immerse the views in the activity of making great wine.

On the ground floor of the La Rocca structure you can have the ultimate wine tasting experience: at the tasting bar there are many different labels of Vernaccia of San Gimignano DOCG and Vernaccia of San Gimignano DOCG Riserva. It is also possible to taste the wines of San Gimignano DOC, such as Rosso (red), Rosato (rosé), Vinsanto, Chianti DOCG wines and Tuscany IGT wines, for a wide range of products typical to the area. Open everyday from 11:30 – 7:30 pm

Official website

An event not to miss, the anteprima di Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Celebrate Vernaccia

The area is full of activities which salute the variety and variations in delicious flavors of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. While on holiday in the area be sure to add one of these events to your calendar and relish the beauty of Tuscany’s white wine.

Anteprima Vernaccia di San Gimignano: February starts the season off with the first taste of the new

Gran Fondo della Vernaccia: On the 2nd Sunday of May there is the annual long distance bike race.

I venerdì della Vernaccia di San Gimignano: For 13 Fridays in a row, starting in June, a glass of wine with a sommelier. This is the best way to be introduced to a new flavor.

"Calici sotto le stelle": An open-air tasting of local wines in the Piazza Sant'Agostino on the 10th AUGUST (Saint Lawrence's night also known as the night of the falling stars)

Pomeriggi dei Produttori: Four separate appointments with different San Gimignano wines, including Vernaccia, starting mid-July. Check website for more information


Author: Donna Scharnagl

It has been more than 25 years since I took my first steps in Italy and I still haven’t found a good reason to leave.  Between the food, the culture, the history, the art, the landscapes … did I mention the food? I have become a lifelong student. It didn't take longe to learn that Italians all have stories that long to be told; stories that paint a picture of how hard work produces character, how life is made of ups and downs and how good it feels to laugh.



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