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The Vernaccia di San Gimignano

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View from a tower, San Gimignano

View of the piazza, San Gimignano

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from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Vernaccia is a white Italian wine, made from the Vernaccia grape, produced in and around the Italian hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since the Renaissance it has been considered one of Italy's finest white wines. It was the first Italian wine to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1966; on July 9th, 1993 it was upgraded to Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).


The earliest recorded mention of the wine appear in the archives of record of San Gimignano from 1276. Due to the difficulties in cultivating the Vernaccia grape, the wine fell out of favor in the early 20th century as the more prolific Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes were planted. By the 1960s, Vernaccia di San Gimignano experienced a resurgence as its distinctive, crisp qualities established itself as a popular alternative to the more bland wines produced from Trebbiano and Malvasia blends.


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Viticulture and winemaking

The name "Vernaccia" is applied to several different Italian grape, such the Sardinian grape used in Vernaccia di Oristano and the Marche grape used in the sparkling red wine Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. Ampelographers have determined that the variety grown in San Gimignano is different and distinct from the other Italian Vernaccias and is most likely not related. The Tuscan variety is believed to be the oldest grape variety but its origins are not clear with ampelographers disagreeing if it originally came from Eastern Europe, Greece or indigenous to the Italian peninsula.

In San Gimignano, the Vernaccia grapes planted in sandstone based vineyards tend to produce the best examples of Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The wine is characteristically dry with crisp acidity and a slightly bitter finish. Modern winemaking has introduced the use of oak aging to give the wine another layer of complexity and roundness. While very different from the historic style of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the success of these more modern and international styles have not yet been established.

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