Taking a Closer Look at Vernaccia di San Gimignano

For this first month of January 2021, I am exploring one of Italy’s most underrated white wines, Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany. Vernaccia di San Gimignano  was the first  Italian wine to receive a DOC denomination in 1966 as most students of Italian wine know. It was then given its DOCG designation in 1993. Vernaccia wines must be made from 85% Vernaccia and they can have 15% of other non-aromatic grapes. Generally though, most producers are moving towards making 100% Vernaccia. There are two version, the vintage year and then the riserva.

San Gimignano is located in the province of Siena. The town is located on a hill and the vineyards are all at altitudes from 200 to 400 meters above sea level. The soils are between 6.8 and 1.8 million years old and tend to have marine deposits and yellow sand and clay. The soils are generally quite loose and vines can dig deep. They tend not to have a lot of organic materials. The Consortium website mentions that this yellow tuff brings savory notes to the wines.

My last European trip was in February 2020 before the Covid virus was known to be circulating and before the world changed. On that occasion and during the Anteprime, I tasted at least 85 different versions of Vernaccia. Vernaccia has both great aromatics as well as structure and length. It is quintessentially an Italian white wine with its minerally, salinity and bitter almond note on the finish. I tasted the Vernaccias from 2019 and 2018 vintages.

In general, I preferred the younger fresher version. Some of the Riservas were put into oak but I think that Vernaccia does best in stainless steel or concrete. The wines are meant to be drunk young but I think what they want to show with the Riserva versions is that it can also age. Much Vernaccia is consumed in this marvelous medieval town of many spires. San Gimignano is a perfect jewel of a town with the most beautiful town hall where they host tastings during the Anteprima. It’s an idyllic place to sip wine and much of the local production is sold to tourists who visit the town.

I found the town and the wines to be be refreshing and exciting and that they needed to be given their due. I have visited the town during the last three Anteprime and each time, I am amazed at the town and surprised by the wines.

I was also pleasantly surprised this past year to see that had for the second time, elected a woman, as head of the Consortium. I’ve met many producers of Vernaccia through these visits and many of the wineries are run by women which I always fine to be exciting. I’ve written about some of the producers before and one amazing woman in particular, Elisabetta Fagiuoli, the owner of Montenidoli.

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I’ve also written about the President of the Consortium, Irina Guicciardini Strozzi and wines from Poggio Alloro and about Podere la Marronia. Some of favorite Vernaccia producers are also organic, for example Cappella Sant’Andrea and Podere le Volute. I’ve spent a few dinners with the owners of these wineries and have tasted them all on their own and with food and they were continually some of my favorites. The people i San Gimignano are also lovely and open. It was very nice to taste with producers as they tasted other people’s wines and complimented them. That was something that really stuck with me as well.

Join us live on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT and learn about our Italian wine and food lovers selections. 

  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will be featuring A Lovely Bottle of Taurasi paired with a Delicious Meal of Beef Tips Marsala.
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles serves up Bacon and Butternut Pasta with a Langhe DOC Nebbiolo.
  • Susannah at Avvinare will be Taking a Closer Look at Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
  • Camilla at the Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be Capping off the Old Year with Cappelleti in Brodo + G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016.
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest will showcase how Lagrein Reigns in Alto Adige.
  • Terri at Our Good Life is cooking up An Italian favorite: Chianti Classico with Baked Salmon and Stuffed Mushroom Caps.
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass will talk about What if you could blend your own Pinot Grigio?
  • Li at The Wining Hour will be Keeping it Fresh and Fun with Fiano.
  • Cindy at Grape Experiences will bring us on A Return to Piemonte with Marenco Scrapona Moscato d’Asti 2019 and Bagna Cauda.
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will be Going with Lugana.
  • Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will be sharing 3 Wines to Get 2021 off on the Right Foot.

7 comments

  1. What a great post! I spent sometime in San Gimignano before Christmas the year I lived in Italy and it holds a special place in my heart. Now I definitely need to track down from Vernaccia di San Gimignano. I only remember drinking red wine while I was there. My mistake!

  2. Haven’t had Vernaccia in some time (and haven’t had that many) yet it is a wine I fondly remember. Agree with you preferring non-oaked versions but it’d be interesting to taste an older oaked bottle. After reading your description of the town and people gosh, it’s so easy for me to get there I’d love to go. I know who to reach out to for planning help when I do!

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