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The Vernaccia di San Gimignano Grape


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About Vernaccia di San Gimignano

(Synonyms: Bervedino, Picabòn, Vernaccia.)

Background

Map showing San Gimignano in Italy.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is an ancient and long-respected white-wine grape originating in the Italian town of San Gimignano, and still grown only in that vicinity. Note well that there are numerous Italian grape varieties called “Vernaccia”-Something, but the only one of interest is the “Vernaccia di San Gimignano”, which is a distinct variety not related to any other Vernaccias. The grape does poorly when tried away from its home ground; the general belief is that the grape and the distinctive sandstone soils in its home area are a magical marriage of demand and supply, and it may well be so.

Despite many centuries of appreciation and fame, Vernaccia di San Gimignano was notably on the decline in the first half of the 20th century. But when the area was proclaimed by law as Italy’s first official DOC, that—and its inherent superiority to the grapes that were than supplanting it—led to a return of its premier status.

This is one of those unusual cases where the name of the grape and the name of the authorized wine are the same. The named wine is often monovarietal, but can include up to 10% of other white wines. Some bottlings have been exposed to oak-barrel aging, but the use of oak is controversial: the wine has subtle flavoring, and while a kiss of oak may enhance it somewhat, the least excess of oaking will largely destroy the wine’s native qualities. Indeed, even blending is frowned on by many as tending to submerge the Vernaccia distinctiveness, as it doesn’t take much of other added varieties to do so.

A typical Vernaccia di San Gimignano has a gold coloration and manifest floral aroma, and tends to be full-bodied and powered by crisp acidity, with distinct minerality and citrus overetones. A frequently mentioned quality is a mild but noticeable bitter-almond after-taste (remember that Italians are fond of bitter as a taste) that adds to its interest.

Factoid: Vernaccia is mentioned by Dante (Purgatorio XXIV) as an example of Pope Martin IV’s gluttony.

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Some Descriptions of Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wines

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Some Vernaccia di San Gimignanos to Try

(About this list.)

We have included one wine that is not technically a “Vernaccia di San Gimignano” because the blend grapes amount to 20% of the wine; if that seems too far from a varietal specimen, we included a fifth true San Gimignano bottling.


Teruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia di San Gimignano
(100% Vernaccia. They bottle numerous Vernaccias: this is their basic bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Tenuta Le Calcinaie “Simone Santini” Vernaccia di San Gimignano
(100% Vernaccia.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano
(95% - 97% Vernaccia—varies with vintage. This is their basic bottling, not their Riserva or their “Santa Margherita” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Montenidoli “Tradizionale” Vernaccia di San Gimignano
(100% Vernaccia. This is their “Tradizionale” bottling, not their “Fiore” or their “Carato”.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano
(100% Vernaccia. This is their basic bottling, not their Riserva.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Teruzzi & Puthod “Terre di Tufi” Bianco
(80% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc; not technically a Vernaccia di San Gimignano, despite the grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.