Under de Tuscan sun with Cappella Sant’Andrea
On the first weekend of my first visit to Tuscany many years ago, I whiled away a Saturday in the medieval town of San Gimignano. I was laying in the summer sun on the steps of the Piazza della Cisterna, looking at the Gothic and Romanesque palazzi all around the square. And at all the beautiful women and men everywhere. As I was laying there, I was reading a book, which quoted Michelangelo Buonarroti, who wrote that the white wine made from the Vernaccia grape of San Gimignano “kisses, licks, bites, slaps, and stings.” “Darn!” I said to myself, looking at the breathtaking beauty around the square, “I gotta get me some of that.”
Vernaccia is Tuscany’s noble white wine grape. It’s as old as the town of San Gimignano, and as much a part of Tuscany’s history as Sangiovese and Chianti. It was the first wine in all of Italy — white or red — to be classified as DOC — Denominazione di Origine Controllata — the emblem of a wine’s authenticity to its region. It’s a grape whose character matches its nobility. Vernaccia ripens later than most white grapes, yielding wines which are as lustrous as they are rich.
The Cappella Sant’Andrea Vernaccia di San Gimignano is an exemplary wine of its terroir. The estate’s vineyards are just beyond the medieval walls of San Gimignano, with soils made up of yellow sand and clay, along with Pliocene Epoch marine deposits. (If you stroll through the vineyards, you find sea fossils.) The aromas of the wine are spring blossoms and Amalfi lemons. Its lush, savory palate is almond, apricot, yellow plum, and tangerine, with a distinctive, flinty minerality.
And, yeah, the Cappella Sant’Andrea Vernaccia di San Gimignano kisses, licks, bites, slaps, and stings. So I’ll say to you what I said to myself on my first visit to San Gimignano. You gotta get you some of that.