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Delhi Wine Club
Feature: A Full House at Tuscan Tasting

Posted: Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:10

A Full House at Tuscan Tasting

March 14 : In the game of poker it could have been a full house, a straight flush or even five of a kind if Carmignano had sent their invitation in time but the remaining four areas of Tuscany-San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, Montepulciano and Montalcino was a full house though it could be declared either as two pairs or four of a kind, writes John Salvi MW who is a regular participant at these four annual events held. Part A of the Tasting at San Gimignano is covered in this article .

The Hand of San Gimignano

I was in time to reach San Gimignano to taste around 30 wines of the 2011 vintage among the 61base wines, selezione and riserva on offer at the Museo,di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea de Grada. Good, fresh, vigorous with bright lemony acidity and plenty of minerality- all. Not so much powerful as attractive. It had been a difficult vintage with a very wet winter.

It was fresh the second part of July and early August, followed by intense and exceptional august heat. Somewhat optimistically they claim that this gavehealthy grapes with high sugar content, leading to
perfect maturity and resulting in wines balanced, with good structure and fine alcoholic content. Honest growers admitted that the exceptional heat-wave had shrivelled and burned some of the bunches and that the yields were small. They said, and I confirm, that the acidities had held up remarkably well, especially where the vines were on clay soil or higher up the slopes. This year for the two appellations, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG and San Gimignano DOC, 712 hectares were declared for Vernaccia and 52 for San Gimignano out of 900 total (producing some 5 million bottles) and 100 respectively.

Vernaccia was the very first DOC in Italy in 1966 and became DOCG in1993. The Consorzio today has 76 members of whom 54 bottle their wine.

We were staying in the Antico Pozzo, a wonderful ancient 15thcentury town house where the illuminati used to meet to enjoy themselves. At one stage it was also the scene of some of the processes of the infamous inquisition in the Sala Rosa (today the breakfast room). A fine building with a deep ancient well at the back. It is reliably recounted that girls of the period who refused the “droit de seigneur” were suspended in the well for three days and three nights before being returned to their new husbands!

The welcoming dinner that night was in the Restaurant Lampolla in an hotel outside San Gimignano, all those in the town being closed for the winter season. Here we were warmly welcomed by Letizia Cesani, President of the Consorzio Denominazione di San Gimignano. The dinner was sadly disappointing! Tasting at Sala di Dante The Hall of the Palazzo Comunale (built in 1288) in San Gimignano is known as the Sala di Dante and is a large reception hall which was used in the past as the council chamber.It was named for the noted poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), who visited San Gimignano in 1300 as an ambassador of the Florentine Republic.The room is decorated with a Maestà by LippoMemmi. Commissioned in 1317 by Nello de Mino Tolomei (then podestà of San Gimignano), the fresco is believed to have been inspired by Simone Martini's Maestà from the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The fresco shows Mary seated on a throne surrounded by adoring saints and angels (including patron Nello de Mino Tolomei). It is a truly wonderful place to hold a tasting.

Vernaccia vs. Chenin Blanc

This year, for the 7th edition,we compared, or at least noted, the different characteristics of Vernaccia and Chenin Blanc. There is little comparison. We tasted Vernaccia from 2011 to 2002 to show how well they can age. Regretfully I found that Vernaccia does not and although the 2002 was from a superb producer it was way past its best.

Surprisingly, out of all the producers only 54 bottle their wine. This year the Chenins, all from the Loire, were disappointing. Those from Huet and Thierry Germain were splendid; that from Joly acceptable, but two others very poor indeed. Nobody was there from the Loire and the wines had been purchased off the shelf. Also the script that was distributed about Chenin was biased and incorrect. It stated, quite falsely, that we should note that no Chenin from the New World could hold a candle to those from the Loire. I was forced to stand up and remonstrate and Professor Ernesto Gentili, the moderator said to me at lunch “the sentence was misplaced”! A fine buffet lunch of local specialities, charcuterie and cheeses, together with a mayonnaise and an olive oil ice cream from the famous local ice-cream producer.I then had time to taste another 30 wines before we were driven off to Florence and deposited at our AC Hotel behind the Stazione Leopolda. It had been an enjoyable, useful and instructive visit in San Gimignano. That evening was free and together with friends we enjoyed Pappardelle alCinghiale and BisteccaFiorentina in a local trattoria, topped off with Vin Santo and Cantuccini.

John Salvi, Master of Wine

Part B of the Tuscan Tasting will be in the next issue #494 of delWine. Watch out this space- editor



Ambuj Says:

To visit part B of this article click on

Posted @ March 24, 2012 13:40


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