Vernaccia di San Gimignano, 1981. Ilraccianello | Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | January 1984

The wine of Michelangelo! What a credential.

Well… that is what a waiter may tell you in Tuscany, when he finds you struggling with a wine list. However if you raise your eyebrows, and maybe attempt to comment that you had not heard that Michelangelo also made wine…he will come back with “…it was one of the wines he loved.”

In fact, that is true. Michelangelo described Vernaccia as a wine that “kisses, licks, bites, tingles, and stings.” Like all Italians in his day and today, Michelangelo liked wine. It is said that: often when he was commis­sioned to do a piece of art, he required a daily wine allotment as part of his pay.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a specific wine, made from a grape by the same name, and produced in and around the many towered town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. It has its own D.O.C. classification (translated: Denomination of Controlled Origin.) and its own Consortium (a voluntary association of producers, identified by the neckband on the bottle.) Other Vernaccia wines exist with different regional designations. They are not the same grape, or the same wine. (The name Vernaccia relates to: vernacular in English, vernaculus in Latin, meaning native or of this place. Consequently other grapes, for lack of separate identity, can be called vernaccia.)

Vernaccia de San Gimignano, as it is made today, is different from the wine as it was known in .

Michelangelo’s days. Only recently has this wine become appealing to the American wine consuming palate. Modern methods of vinification and abandonment of barrel ageing has been responsible for this. Originally, the wine had a somewhat woody flavor, with some bitterness, and a hint of oxidation, like sherry. Modern Vernaccia is fresh, smooth, dry, and rounded, with body and elegance from the grape only.

Our wine is a made by Azienda Vinicola Franco Gianni. The firm owns 49 acres of vineyard on a hillside that looks back at the town of San Gimignano.( located S.W. of Florence and N. of Siena.) Mr. Gianni markets his wines under the trademark of “ilraccianello”. This label has gained the respect of Italian wine judges. I naturally did not buy this on the label… even though the local salesman hustled me on the Michelangelo story again! It passed the multilevel screening, head to head, so to speak, or glass to glass, with the other similar wines available locally at this time.

Our wine is light golden yellow in color. It has a fresh, crisp aroma, with fruit, clean, and with depth. The taste is flavorful. Reminescent of young green apples at the onset, followed by an sensation of butteriness, that finishes slowly with a pleasant light bitterness. Remarkable taste sensations. Serve well chilled with fish courses, or with sea food appetizers.

Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing, in my opinion, even though the Italians like to age this wine. Drink this year.

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