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Rare among Tuscan white wines for its flavor, freshness, and longevity, Vernaccia di San Gimignano owes its 800 year reign as the region’s most lauded white wine to the predominance of the relatively rare Vernaccia clones that thrive in the environs of San Gimignano. Whereby most Tuscan whites rely upon the more innocuous and ubiquitous Trebbiano and Malvasia grape varieties, Vernaccia di Gimignano must be comprised predominantly or entirely of Vernaccia. The 2008 Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano is produced from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano from the estate. For starters, this charming Vernaccia cuts a brilliant figure in the glass. It throws a bright glow, a combination of the soft green of the magical landscape and the golden yellow glow of the Tuscan sun. Pure and aromatic, the 2008 Fontaleoni Vernaccia offers up a refreshing draught of fruit, soft scents of almond blossom, and a subtle minerality that persists on the palate. However, what may be most alluring about this wine is its eminent drinkability. It goes down so, so easily and keeps you coming back for more. It will continue to mature gracefully in bottle for at least two more years, but it will be hard to resist drinking this superb Vernaccia now while it is in the bloom of its youth. For optimal enjoyment we suggest only moderate chilling (40º-50º F).
The beauty of fine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and the 2008 Fontaleoni is no exception, is how well it fares as an aperitif. It needs no calling card, other than its own welcome. Moreover, Fontaleoni’s Vernaccia has the ability to enliven traditional Tuscan seafood dishes. It pairs especially well with fish, from both fresh and salt waters. Seared sea scallops, with a ragout of cannelloni beans and crispy pancetta bacon; and grilled trout, with almonds and fresh green beans constitute just two fine choices to accompany the Troianis’ Vernaccia di San Gimignano. White pizza with rock shrimp, fresh ricotta, mozzarella, and arugula offers another fine pairing. Grilled vegetables, hors d’oeuvres, cream based pasta dishes, and hearty salads provide other opportunities to highlight the 2008 Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Buon Appetito!
Wine, food, and the traditional life of Tuscany are alive and well at the Azienda Agricola Fontaleoni. Here the Troiani family makes some of Tuscany’s finest wines, including the region’s most illustrious white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Just a few kilometers from the storied, medieval towers of San Gimignano and the ancient town of Certaldo, the Troiani family has created a slice of heaven – a pastoral paradise that consists of 45 hectares (approximately 95 acres) of vines, olive trees, and a dreamland landscape.
From a hillside balcony that opens dramatically onto a panorama of hills, vines, and vast stretches of the magical, undulating land known as Chianti, the Fontaleoni estate vineyards slope gently down from Antico Desco, the family’s traditional restaurant and bed and breakfast. The restaurant, located to one side of the family’s stone house, brings to life the glory of this mystical land by combining the flavors of Tuscan cuisine with the sincerity, authenticity and warmth of the Troiani family. And of course, the food and the atmosphere are both served with the excellent wines of Fontaleoni, which flow from the vines that grow just outside the terrace of the restaurant and the inn’s three beautifully appointed guest rooms. Here one can enjoy superb Tuscan food and wine amidst the tranquility of a fecund, starkly beautiful countryside, a land deftly sculptured by nature and the hand of man. To drink the cool, hauntingly beautiful Vernaccia di San Gimignano of Fontaleoni as the deep, haunting tones of light begin to spread across the nearby trees and vines recalls Michelangelo’s moving scenes of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As Vernaccia di San Gimignano was a favorite of the De Medici family (Michelangelo’s patron) and as some have claimed of the artist himself, one has to wonder if Tuscany’s favorite son ever sojourned in these very hills. If so, it would explain the impetus for Michelangelo’s most famous work.
From Fontaleoni, the Troianis produce five wines or “pearls” as the estate’s aficionados are fond of saying. Tuscany’s finest dry white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano is Fontaleoni’s greatest claim to fame. Fontaleoni produces two special estate bottled Vernaccia wines; both warrant DOCG status as Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The brightest and most traditional of these is this month’s feature. The other, Vigna Casanova, is a more internationally styled white wine that combines 10% Chardonnay with the estate’s Vernaccia. Two delicious DOCG Chianti wines are fashioned here as well from the indigenous Sangiovese grape. In addition, a bit of Rosso di San Gimignano, which is designated La Cerreta, is offered for sale. It is an artful blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. And last but not least, the Troianis press authentic virgin olive oil that is not to be missed.
At Fontaleoni one can enjoy the full realm of beauty that the ancient land of the Etruscans has to offer. Here there is abundance as well as solitude, and even more than a little magic. What else could one ask for?
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