A modern fairy tale that comes from afar
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
Oh no! The Queen is evil! Well, not this time! This is a different fairy tale, the Queen and Snow White are the same person, and she’s truly very good!
One visit a year is not enough to contemplate the beauty of the White Queen of Tuscany, therefore I do return to San Gimignano quite often, for Her Majesty only, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. But the Preview of the new vintages is always the most emotional meeting of all! An important moment of study in deep but also a great party indeed. Despite the continuing restrictions imposed by Covid (and we hope they will end soon), this year the Consortium managed to organize a very engaging event that allowed us to meet and exchange opinions with the producers, even though the tasting took place without them which, if on one hand it did allow maximum concentration in the tasting, on the other it deprived us of the joy of sharing.
First things first. We arrived in San Gimignano rather breathless and tired, after the Paestum Wine Festival, Terre di Toscana and Chianti Classico Collection, therefore it was just priceless to be able to enjoy the first insights at dinner in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere. The Queen showed off all her versatility in food pairings in an endless waltz of aromas and flavors. No matter who her dance partner was each time, nor the rhythm of the music, she always twirled with grace and ease, without any hesitation or winces.
The second audience took place in the marvelous Sala Dante of the Town Hall, a masterpiece of frescoes painted between the thirteenth and fourteenth centurie. An irresistible Professor Attilio Scienza told us about the ancient origins of the noble kingdom of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, taking us on a journey through the centuries along the Via Francigena. A grape veriety with a glorious history that could have stopped anywhere on its long journey and found only in these places its authentic uniqueness instead. This is the real strength of this wonderful wine: its uniqueness which makes it always so tremendously recognizable! A value on which it is necessary to invest more in the future, both in the interpretation of each vintage and in communication and storytelling endevors. It is a great wine in which we must believe beyond fashions, but it is necessary for it to become fashionable again. Since the times of the long medieval glaciation, during which black berried grapes had practically disappeared, Vernaccia in fact, besides being a grape variety, has always been a style of wine as well, a precious and very refined one indeed. The White Queen has been ruling for over ten centuries now, and like all respectable secular kingdoms, she has lived through periods of splendor alternating with dark ages and difficult times from which she has always risen with her chin up high, true to herself but also enriched with new light and renewed splendor.
So, what does the Queen look like in this new preview? In the 2021 vintage we find her in “vacation mode on”, relaxed and easy-going, decidedly casual and contemporary in style, but she does turn into a glamorous fashion icon:
- in a bathing suit in the interpretation of Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara with their Selvabianca, beautiful, fresh, and pleasant as a sudden sea wave on a sunny exotic beach
- in cocktail dress in the very elegant version of Fattoria Poggio Alloro with theis Il Nicchiaio, with a precise and didactic nose and a nice taste-olfactory correspondence that grants immediate pleasure.
Choosing to present the vintage a year late, however, proved to be a smart decision made by several producers because they manage to bring to the glass all the true and profound beauty of their Queen. Granted that an additional year of aging raises any wine in its expressiveness, but this is particularly determinant for Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and all the producers who took this path are widely rewarded every time by wines that, although relatively young, are most definitely exemplary. Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Tradizionale di Montenidoli stands out for its recognizability and, personally, I found it superior to Fiore 2020. Exquisitely Montenidoli, simply delicious!
The 2020 Viti Sparse from Terre di Sovernaja outshines the competition, explosive in the glass, with a didactic nose and a crisp, precise, and very elegant sip. Now don’t tell me that I am always cheering for Federico Montagnani and Andrea Pizzolato, it is them who force me every time with their interpretation in purity, so very traditional and yet so exquisitely contemporary! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! You are once again on my personal podium this year.
The tastings of Reserves present the Queen in her institutional gown, with scepter, cloak and crown. Here the quality is always so high it is never easy to choose one out of the many. This year, however, there is no doubt the throne goes to:
Cesani’s Sanice 2019, a Riserva always at the top of the denomination in terms of quality, but this year it must be said that they really outdid themselves with a Vernaccia of such purity and precision that would leave you dumbstruck to say the least! It is truly exemplary and enraptures the senses with a deep and variegated bouquet and a vibrant, enveloping and very elegant sip. This bottle cannot and must not be missing in the cellar of the lovers of the White Queen and of good wine in general.
I will wrap it up with my personal description of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which I faithfully replicate every year because this is the feeling I get at every single tasting;
Noble, rebellious, many have tried to “catalogue” Vernaccia but she escapes any analogy, any comparison because the truth is that there are none. A female grown among the males, beautiful indeed, but in a real, authentic, peculiar way, beyond the conventional canons of beauty, and for this reason unparalleled and unforgettable. Determined but with elegance, strong but with composure, authoritative but never despotic, full but never opulent, 𝙑𝙚𝙧𝙣𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙞𝙖 𝙙𝙞 𝙎𝙖𝙣 𝙂𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙜𝙣𝙖𝙣𝙤 demands that you look her straight in the eyes and never lower your gaze!
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