At the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Preview, Producers have finally returned as the most important champions with their tasting counters, and restored that fundamental direct line abruptly interrupted by the pandemic. Ninety-six samples were tasted strictly blindfolded. How did it go?

🇮🇹 Italiano

The week of the Previews of Tuscany has just ended. This region once again is confirmed at the top of the world in terms of vocation and quality of wine labels of excellence. Over one thousand references were presented to wine critics, operators, and finally to wine lovers who best represent the average consumer.

The White Queen of Tuscany has opened the doors of her kingdom with a day that, to everyone’s delight, finally saw the Producers as the most important champions of the day. With their tasting counters that fundamental direct line, abruptly interrupted by the pandemic, was restored at last. Ninety-six samples were tasted strictly blindfolded, let’s see how it went.

In evaluating wines in preview, as an experienced taster, I always take a step back. I am aware that my palate is far more discerning than that of the average consumer. Moreover, if wine was made for critics rather than for the market, producers would have gone out of business long ago! It is never easy to evaluate wines that have just been bottled, but the market dictates the timing, and therefore production must follow through by premiering labels as they need income from sales rather than to delight the critics.

True, Vernaccia has among its main virtues that of being a wine suited for aging, and the masterclass in Sala Dante has dispelled any doubts about it. Therefore, the difficulty of evaluating this wine only five months after the harvest is totally understandable. This is why every year we are asked to throw our hearts over the hurdle, to always keep a broader perspective, to taste while also mastering the art of foresight. I don’t think anyone ever expects these wines to be ready, but it is not true that nothing can be said about the tastings.

In complicated vintages then, the dutiful respect for the work of those who have had to struggle with a capricious Nature, while doubling the effort and spending countless sleepless nights, is due more than ever! Therefore, as always, the tastings must be contextualized and read in the correct perspective. Moreover, we should never forget that we are certainly not the ones who pay the mortgage of those who present us the outcome of a particularly hard and complicated season.

An extremely dry and hot year 2022, that has put to the test both the nerves and skills of vignerons and winemakers everywhere in Italy. Here in San Gimignano the first rains arrived on August 16. The vines held up stoically in the end, it could have been a disaster. However, the signs of some sunburn inevitably marked the delicate complexion of the White Queen.

The Queen’s beauty, then, may not be so perfect and canonical this year, but She is still full of charm for that very reason as well. No tricks, no forcing. The hot vintage shows, and the wines are on average rounder, more fruty, and less slender. On the other hand, if she were always to stay the same, the Queen would not be authentic. If she followed fashions and market trends, she would not be regal, and when dressed in purity the White Queen has no equal!

It is in the most difficult vintages that the gap between the Wineries with the highest quality standards and the rest of the production emerges the most. I personally believe that the average quality of the DOCG could be raised by a few points. Perhaps this is the ingredient that is still missing for the Queen to gain the legendary status that her uniqueness would allow her to achieve. But this remains a consideration of an experienced and discerning palate. If we go by the sales figures of 4,633,819 bottles in 2022, it is undeniable that consumer desires are nevertheless largely met.

To make a long story short, how does the White Queen of Tuscany perform in this new preview?

With respect to the 2022 vintage, I like to remind you that “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all […] You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.” (Quoting Mulan) and therefore, among the children of heat, the following are to be considered decidedly special flowers:

Cappellasantandrea Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Clara Stella 2022

Fattoria di Fugnano Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Da Fugnano 2022

Fattoria Poggio Alloro Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Il Nicchiaio 2022

Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Selvabianca 2022

Il Palagione Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Hydra 2022

That extra year that helps Vernaccia di San Gimignano so much, but that the market cannot and will not grant, gives pleasantness, precision and great recognizability in both bouquet and sip. The Wineries paying homage to the Queen with their truly excellent labels are:

Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Traditional 2021

Terre di Sovernaja Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Viti Sparse 2021

Fattoria di Fugnano Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Donna Gina 2021

Vagnoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Fontabuccio 2021

Il Palagione Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva Ori 2021

Collemucioli Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva 2021

In a vintage like 2020 that expresses traits of great elegance everywhere, the Queen parades on the catwalk with great charm and looks fabulous dressed by stylists like:

Terre di Sovernaja Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva Assola 2020. (I didn’t want to mention it because I’m a bit biased here. In fact,I helped with the harvest, but it came out at the blind tasting therefore I had to mention it.)

Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva L’Albereta 2020

Cappellasantandrea Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva Prima Luce 2020

La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva 2020

Cesani Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva Sanice 2020

Let me close the review with sample #96, the last in order of tasting but absolutely noteworthy:

Casa Lucii Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Riserva Mareterra 2018 

Once again, also this year, praise goes to the Consortium and its organizational machine that, as always, delivered an engaging event full of insights into this all-Italian excellence that we hope will increasingly succeed in conquering the whole world.

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