A second wine which suffers at the hands of its reputation is the Tuscan indigenous white, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. If I had a pound for every average bottle sold to tourists in this spectacular town under its medieval towers, I would be … well, you can finish the sentence. But it is potentially a quality wine, as we had confirmed at a mini-seminar at Vinitaly. Our friendly sommelier double-act talked us through the four examples.
Pietrafitta ‘Borgheto’ 2009 is Pietrafitta’s quality Vernaccia, lively and pleasant, good clean fruit, not very complex but with a good nutty and apple taste. One suggestion was that it had a bit of Turkish delight about it, but that may have been a flight of fancy! By contrast, Guicciardini Strozzi riserva 2007 has a more intense nose, vegetal with some herbiness, then aged fruit, along with some wood-derived coffee and vanilla aromas. It retains a lime green streak to its colour (on the left). Altogether a fatter, more structured wine with emerging minerality. One of the unusual features of top Vernaccia – like the Gavi commented on above – is an ability to age, perhaps for up to 10 years.
Wine number 3 was the Vernaccia from Falchini Abvinea Doni 2008. This wine is fermented and then aged for eight months in French oak barrels which produces a wine of a deeper straw colour and lots of extract. On the nose the is a subtle use of wood, less immediate freshness but good fruit (peach, ripe plums), altogether a good structured white.
Finally, we were introduced to Montenidoli Carato 2005, a substantial wine with 13.5? alcohol and oak-aged for a year. This is a wine of real personality which was awarded the top ranking of tre bicchieri in the Gambero Rosso 2010. It has that wow factor when you first taste it – great initial attack, then so much going on in the mouth but well held together. The fruit is in the ripe apricots and peaches department, accompanied by aromatic herbs, with great mineral and even salty notes. A very, very long way from the bottles which tourists take home after that day out under the medieval towers.