“The ancient crowned hill through the eyes of the queen grape”
When you are in the direction of San Gimignano, in the heart of Tuscany, you cannot help but be enveloped by the magical atmosphere, you get catapulted into a fairy-tale. The hills of “Queen Vernaccia” crown the city of San Gimignano; at its foot lies the most fascinating and characteristic landscape of the Val d’Elsa. Impressive from a distance are the tips of the “crown”, a little Manhattan of the Middle Ages. The city of San Gimignano in the first centuries after 1000 AD was embellished with seventy towers and numerous palaces, built by the many wealthy families to display their wealth and power. Still today, the fourteen beautiful towers remain to characterize the city center and to make the unique and recognizable silhouette of the crowned hill. It is right inside the walls of the beautiful San Gimignano that every year we have the pleasure to taste the new vintages of wines made in this fascinating territory.
The event this year was different from the usual February schedule. The Anteprima Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2021, in fact, was a month-long event that started on Wednesday the 19th of May and closed on Monday the 14th of June. The first day was dedicated exclusively to the Italian and international press. For the occasion, the consortium chose two principal venues: the De Grada Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, where all the journalists and writers were called to taste and evaluate the latest vintages of the sixty-nine wines produced by thirty-four wineries (Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2020, Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2019, Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2018); and the Dante’s Chamber in the Town Hall for the 16th edition of the ‘White Wine and Its Territories’ series: “Vernaccia in Comedy”. A choice linked to the tradition and history of Italy. In fact, this year is the 700th anniversary of the death of the poet Dante. The consortium has intertwined the main six female protagonists of Dante’s work and 6 characteristic white wines of the territory of San Gimignano. These six samples were chosen to be compared with as many wines from those that are among the major denominations for white wines: Alto Adige Valle Isarco Veltliner, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Orvieto Classico Superiore, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Blanc and Palette Blanc. A so-called ‘battle’ between elegant queens, in a magnificent hall that narrates through its frescoes the path of our life.
During my stay at San Gimignano, I blind-tasted all the wines, which were majestically presented by the Consorzio del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020 (34 wines reviewed)
on my radar
Winery: Fattoria di Fugnano
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020 – Da Fugnano
Brillant with pale straw core and watery rim. Pronounced flavour of pineapple with peachy overtones. Dry and sapid with bright acidity. Well balanced with good fruit and harmonious finish. I like this wine.
Winery: Fattoria San Donato
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020
Pale yellow core with greenish hues. The nose is fresh and fruity with scents of lemon and apricot. Vibrant entrance with medium alcohol. Dry with good acidity and a fruity finish. Lovely wine.
Winery: Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020 – Selvabianca
Pale yellow core, lighter on the edge. Intense flavour of citrus fruit and green apple with light floral notes. Dry with lovely acidity which matches a good alcohol level. The aftertaste is persistent with pleasant notes of almond at the end. Very good wine !
Winery: Il Palagione
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020 – Hydra
Straw coloured with paler rim. The bouquet is intense and ample with notes of grapefruit and apricot with scents of ginger. The mouth is intense and fresh with racy acidity. Quite a long finish. Fine, charming wine !
Winery: San Benedetto
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2020 – Selvabianca
Clear with lemon colour turning slightly green on the rim. It expresses nice aromas of lemon and peach mixed with light notes of acacia. The acidity matches well with the rich fruit. Balanced palate with quite a long persistence. I really appreciate it.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2019 (18 wines reviewed)
on my radar
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2019 – Fiore
Deep yellow core, lighter on the edge. The wine expresses a beautiful bouquet of lime and orange peel with overtones of thyme and mint. It is vibrant and structured to the palate with harmonious and fresh finish. Great potential for the ageing.
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2019 – Ostrea
Intense straw core with paler reflections. Intriguing nose with flavour of pear and maruted fruit with a hint of almond. Lovely, creamy palate with present acidity. Discrete alcohol level with fresh finish. Delicious wine !
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2019 – Vigna Santa Margherita
Colour ranging from medium yellow core to lighter rim. Intense flavour of lemon with scent of candied apricot. Slight notes of vanilla. Dry, lively palate with good acidity. Rich and elegant aftertaste. Great wine.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2018 Riserva (10 wines reviewed)
on my radar
Winery: Cappella di Sant’Andrea
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2018 Riserva – Prima Luce
Brilliant, deep yellow colour. Intense bouquet of lemon and jasmine flowers with a hint of mint. Fragrant entrance, round with ripe fruit and good acidity. Well structured, mineral and complex. I really like it !
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2018 Riserva – Sanice
Medium yellow core with lighter hues. The wine displays an intense perfume white peach, grapefruit, and lemon with a light buttery note. Dry, sapid and intense with good acidity and freshness. Well balanced and harmonious. Excellent wine.
Winery: Guicciardini Strozzi
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg 2018 Riserva
Medium yellow core with paler rims. Clean with beautiful nose of ripe apricot and mango with flowery overtones and a hint of almond. Medium body with lively acidity and freshness. The alcohol is well balanced with the fruit. Elegant aftertaste. Great wine.
A FEW NOTES ABOUT THE 2020 VINTAGE
2020 was characterised by an excellent seasonal trend. The onset of the vegetative stages was a little early but still normal for the long term. The harvest also started a week earlier than in 2019. The health of the grapes was excellent and their quality was good, albeit slightly lower than the previous year. The wines of this vintage are smooth and round, have good aromas and their acidity is not excessive.
SAN GIMIGNANO AND ITS QUEEN GRAPE VERNACCIA
San Gimignano is a small town of Siena, rich in charm and history. The village of San Gimignano is located almost halfway between Florence and Siena (about 60 and 45 km), and is easily reachable by car or a bus. It is a territory situated completely on hills at altitudes between 200 and 400 m above sea level. The soils are of the Pliocene era, dating back between 6.8 and 1.8 million years. And it is certainly the composition of the ancient soil that makes the wines produced in this denomination extremely fascinating and complex. The terroir of this area is characterized by the presence of fossils and shells, it is composed of pliocene soil and clay. These extremely calcareous sediments make the soil ideal to create vigorous and mineral white wines.The surface area of the Municipality of San Gimignano is of about 12,500 hectares, 5,600 of which are destined to farm productions (vineyards, olive groves, cereal crops). The San Gimignano hills present variable exposures, altitudes, soil compositions and availability of water. The multiple and sometimes unique combinations of these single factors have, even in such a small area, a significant effect on the characteristics of the wines made there. The combination of the unique variables for wine growing in San gimignano: different exposures, altitudes, soil compositions and water…, determine, even in such a restricted area, a significant impact on the characters of the wines produced there.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a white grape variety present in Tuscan since ancient times. Its bunches are large, long and pyramidal in shape, with an average density of compact and medium berries, round, very pruinose with thick peels. It has an unmistakable amber color when it is shone by the sun. A vine that finds its perfect condition in growing in calcareous-clay or tuffaceous soils
Always a big thanks to my colleague and friend Liz Palmer !