Simone Santini always fashions pure, exemplary Vernaccia di San Gimignano, so expectations ran high upon the release of the 2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano. With that said, it appears that Santini’s 2016 vintage is not only truly exceptional, it is the finest Le Calcinaie he has produced to date – no mean feat considering the previous vintage, the delicious 2015 Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List. In 2016, Santini has again raised the bar on Vernaccia, Tuscany’s emblematic white grape variety. 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 2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano is produced from 100% Vernaccia from Simone Santini’s estate, and it cuts a fine figure in the glass; a glint of gold, a hint of the soft green of the magical Tuscan landscape, and a golden yellow glow reminiscent of the Tuscan sun give this wine real eye appeal. Better still, this wine is pure, aromatic, and seductive on the palate. The 2016 Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano offers up a refreshing draught of fruit, soft scents of almond blossom, subtle mineral tones, and twists of ripe citrus and raw almond that add length and vibrancy from the first sip one takes of this wine until the last. Although delightful upon opening, Tenuta Le Calcinaie’s highly acclaimed Vernaccia di San Gimignano will continue to evolve further in the glass with a bit of aeration. And true to form, one can count on Simone Santini’s Vernaccia to mature gracefully in bottle for at least another couple of years. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest only moderate chilling (40º F).
One of the greatest attributes of the 2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano or any vintage of this unique Tuscan white wine is how beautifully it pairs with food, especially classic Tuscan bean dishes, poultry, and seafood. Seared sea scallops with a ragout of cannelloni beans and crispy pancetta bacon; grilled trout with almonds and fresh green beans; and freshly shucked oysters broiled with garlic butter, Parmesan cheese and a dash of lime juice all provide excellent accompaniments to Le Calcinaie’s classic 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 2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Vernaccia di San Gimignano – a rare and authentic taste of Tuscany. The exceptional vibrancy inherent in this wine also makes it a splendid aperitif, with or without accompaniments. Buon Appetito!
The tiny Tenuta Le Calcinaie estate is situated within the confines of San Gimignano, the medieval Tuscan hill town made famous by its many towers. Considering the location and attention to quality at Le Calcinaie, this little jewel of a property has become quite renowned for its rare and exceptional Vernaccia di San Gimignano for which the town of San Gimignano is also justly famous. Considering the dearth of fine Tuscan whites, it should come then as no surprise that Tenuta Le Calcinaie has been so keenly identified with Tuscany’s finest white wine. However, what the world has not yet discovered is just how wonderful this brilliant estate’s red wines are, most notably Le Calcinaie’s Colli Senesi Chianti and its proprietary Super Tuscan red Teodoro.
Behind the success of Tenuta Le Calcinaie is the affable and witty Simone Santini, known near and far as the Great Santini! Simone is gifted with an archetypal Tuscan sense of humor; he possesses a vibrant wit and an acute sense of irony. He is also an excellent winemaker, and his estate is completely certified organic. His Vernaccia di San Gimignano is classically wrought, exceptionally focused, and bursting with flavor. Meanwhile, the true irony lies in Simone’s red wines; they, too, are exceptional and as delicious as his Vernaccia, yet few people outside of San Gimignano have ever tasted these wines. Come to think of it, how many Americans have ever tasted Vernaccia di San Gimignano or Colli Senesi Chianti, two of the friendliest of all Tuscan wines from the hands of a true artisan, “The Great Simone Santini”?
Tuscany enjoys a unique position in Italy. Located in the center of the Italian peninsula, its cities, culture, and people have existed for thousands of years in the throes of conflict. Drawing strength from its ancient Etruscan origin, which lent Rome its ability to build and engineer feats of unparalleled proportion, the inhabitants of Tuscany have shaped an austere, mystifyingly beautiful countryside into a rich, fecund land. And from the dynamic tension that held sway over Florence and its neighbors during the Middle Ages, there emerged the Renaissance – a 15th century ideal that made “man the measure of all things.” In harmony with a singularly beautiful land that has been inexorably shaped by the finest artistry of man, Tuscans have created a nearly ideal world in which agriculture, architecture, art, thought and wine continue to form one seamless, vital union. Nowhere in Tuscany is this truer than in San Gimignano, where the city’s medieval towers reach for the sky and point to the limitless nature of the Tuscan spirit.
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