The hills that stretch from San Gimignano to Volterra are an enchanted place full of magic, especially at dawn when light and low clouds paint an incredible fairy-tale landscape. There is one place in particular where a spell must have been cast around the year 1,000 and that no one has been able to break so far: it is called Pancole, a village of about 114 people 6 km from San Gimignano.

It never rains in Pancole! It rains all around but not here, not on these vineyards of Vernaccia and they are very happy this way indeed! Letizia Cesani explains why wile touring me around her Winery, along with many other things. She does not know the chance she is taking with me! If she keeps on going like this, I will be forced to illegally take over  a room in her beautiful Agritourism strucuture, because the more I stay, the more she tells me, the more I wish I never had to leave! It never rains here, there’s always wind, and the vines have adapted very well to this microclimate! They have sunk their roots deep in the soil of marine origin where you can still find shells and fossils in abundance and fetch the water this way. The organic certification, obtained in 2008, was the natural aftermath of all this, because without rain and with constant ventilation you just have to let nature take its course with love and patience, and she takes care of everything herself.

Letizia explains that there is an agrarian and landscape plan in the San Gimignano  jurisdiction that allows to plant vineyards only where there were already some before, and requires to respect adequate proportions between vines, olive trees, fruit trees and woodland scrub to preserve biodiversity, which is always a guarantee of balance, harmony and ultimately quality. I remain in silent contemplation at this point, I breathe deeply, I am constructing memories, because unfortunately I will have to leave.

The multi-colored concrete fermentation vats and the choreographic lighting system of the cellar exalt the search for balance, harmony and beauty here too! It is a crescendo of sensations that settle in the heart and anticipate the already promising tasting, because gentlemen Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a unique and unrepeatable wine, just like these enchanted hills.

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 yes, 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 to look straight in her eyes and never lower your gaze!

And we looked at each other for a long time, first here at Cesani and then at the preview masterfully organized by the Consorsio at Rocca di Montestaffoli. It has been an intense and truly didactic day, with new vintages and precious Riserve. With the exception of those few who I think have distorted it a bit, Vernaccia has such a precise identity that makes it tremendously recognizable regardless of the specific winery. I’m a just so bad at blind tasting, but I am pretty sure I can  recognize Vernaccia di San Gimignano by now!

I will leave the organoleptic descriptions for you to discover, otherwise what’s the point! But I suggest you start with these bottles:

  • Clamys and Sanice of Cesani: overwhelming sisters, different but with many chromosomes in common!
  • Isabella of San Quirico: a true Queen
  • L’Albereta of Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara, absolute benchmark together with
  • Carato e Fiore of Montenidoli – Carato was my first Vernaccia, it moved me to tears and will remain the one to beat, because the first love is never forgotten, but as I always say, I have a big heart!
  • Casa Lucii – with the Mareterra Risera a true champion!
  • Tenuta Montagnani – I promised to visit them with a case of oysters! And I do keep my promises! Always!

The challenge is now! Open the bottle, look Vernaccia in the eye… and get ready to lose, because she will never lower her gaze! But it is a gaze that will bewitch your heart forever: proud, intense, deep, eloquent. Vernaccia has blue and pure eyes, just like the beautiful, transparent and unforgettable eyes of Letizia Cesani!