Description 1 of 1

Name of varietal: Vernaccia

Common synonyms: Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Parentage of the grape: indigenous to Italy

History of the grape: While there is another white Vernaccia offshoot in Italy (the Vernaccia di Oristano in Sardinia) when one says simply “Vernaccia,” one is referring to Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the star white grape from around that Medieval town in Tuscany. The name refers either to a derivation of the word “vernaculus,” Latin for local, meaning it’s the local grape, or the town of Vernazza in Liguria, where it might have come from. This grape has been around for centuries, with earliest written references from the 13th century. Vernaccia was the favorite wine of Pope Martin IV. In Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, he placed Pope Martin in Purgatorio, forever made to eat eels pickled in Vernaccia for his sins of gluttony.  

After the Phylloxera crisis of the late 1800s, many of the Vernaccia plantings were replaced with Trebbiano and Malvasia since they are easier to grow and maintain. However, it made a resurgence in the 1960s since it’s far more interesting to drink than either of those two. It became the white mascot grape of San Gimignano, and the region was awarded DOC status in 1966, then became DOCG in 1993. Its pleasant acidity and citrus flavors make it a natural match for seafood and herbal dishes such as pesto.

Three styles of Vernaccia are produced:

    * Tradizionale: as the name suggests, the traditional method with prolonged maceration, adding deep straw color and floral aromatics.
    * Fiore: made from free-run juice, much paler in color and more saline in flavor.
    * Carato: extended barrel aging, which adds body and creaminess.

Characteristics of the grape: pleasant acidity, slightly salty, green apples, lemon. With barrel aging, more creamy flavors are pronounced with pear and pineapple and a hint of vanilla.

Regions where the grape is currently important: San Gimignano, Italy

Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry white

– Description from Amanda Schuster

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