Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Tuscany’s greatest white wine
San Gimignano is located right in the heart of Tuscany.
It has a marked vocation for winegrowing but, unlike the rest of the region, is specialised in the production of white wines. The most important wine made here is Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg, a white, and the first Italian wine to be assigned DOC recognition in 1966, progressing to DOCG status in 1993. In actual fact, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is much older. No other Italian wine has such a long history. There are traces of the production of Vernaccia di San Gimignano starting from the thirteenth century and its vicissitudes merge with those of the town of San Gimignano. Production was important during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but this was followed by a long and gradual decline, until the middle of the twentieth century, after which it began to pick up again, renewing its fame and enjoying new success.
Centuries of winemaking production having moulded the territory of San Gimignano, making it one of the most beautiful areas in the region, with an alternation of vineyards and olive groves surrounded by woods and scattered with old farmhouses.
The production areas included within the Appellations protected by the Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano docg and San Gimignano doc, fall entirely under the municipality of San Gimignano, which is in the northwest part of the province of Siena.
It is an exclusively hilly territory, positioned between 200 and 500 metres above sea level. The soils date back to the Pliocene, 6.8 – 1.8 million years ago. In particular, those destined to the production of Vernaccia di San Gimignano are Pliocene marine deposits, made up of yellow sands and clay, rich in fossils, which represent the pedological element that characterises the taste of the wines.
Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano was set up in 1972 for the correct management of the appellation Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
San Gimignano doc was born in 1996: just like Vernaccia has been produced for centuries, red wines have been made on the same hills for centuries too. The first production regulations were formulated in that same year, with the dual intent of lending visibility and specificity to the red wines and Vinsanto produced in the area. The regulations underwent a full review in 2006 and then in 2011.
The Vernaccia di San Gimignano production regulations indicate that the grapes can be grown and vinified exclusively in the municipal district of San Gimignano. The vineyards must contain at least 85% of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, with a maximum of 15% of other non-aromatic white grape varieties, suitable for cultivation in the Tuscany region. The use of Traminer, Muller Thurgau, Moscato Bianco, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Istriana and Incrocio Bruni 54 is not allowed. Sauvignon and Riesling can be used (individually or together) in a maximum of 10%.
The yield must not exceed 9,000 kg per hectare.
With the finest grapes selected, it is possible to obtain the Reserve version of the wine, which must spend at least 11 months in the cellar (in steel or wood) and at least three months in the bottle before being released for sale.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a straw yellow wine with golden highlights which become more and more intense with age. The bouquet is fine and delicate, with fruity and floral scents when the wine is young. As it matures and ages, the characteristic mineral scent of flint develops. The flavour is dry, harmonious and savoury.
The San Gimignano doc production regulations envisage the possibility to make nine different types of wine: six Reds (some Reserve), one Rosé and two types of Vinsanto.
San Gimignano Consortium opened last April the new Vernaccia flagship center in the Montestaffoli Fortress, heart of San Gimignano and highest point in town, dominating the whole region of wine production.
The San Gimignano Consortium opened its new Vernaccia flagship center in the Montestaffoli Fortress last April, heart of San Gimignano and highest point in town, dominating the whole region of wine production.
“Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Experience. La Rocca” offers a full wine experience not only in the traditional tasting way, but on a deeper, more emotional level.
As Consortium’s president Letizia Cesani affirmed: “What we aimed at in the conception of this project was to evolve the traditional exposition place of a Wine Museum into something else, where anyone could learn by immerging himself in the vineyards and cellars both visually and physically speaking. We offer a full-immersion, multisensory experience thanks to the most advanced technologies and to our skilled sommeliers.”
There are two appellations protected by the Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano:
- Vernaccia di San Gimignano docg
- San Gimignano doc
Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano