San Gimignano is a small hilltop town in Tuscany remarkable for its well-preserved medieval towers and fortifications, which give the place an unforgettable skyline. But it is also an exception to the Tuscan rule in that San Gimignano is an island of white wine-growing in a sea of Tuscan reds, mainly Chianti and other reds based on the Sangiovese grape. The white grape grown is called “vernaccia.” Its name derives from the Latin vernaculum, or “local.” The wine is typically vinified as a dry, unoaked white wine, with a level of verve and acidity that appeals to drinkers of sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. But although the aromatic profile of Vernaccia di San Gimignano can be subtle, with clean scents of apples and green herbs, the style has a surprising degree of substance on the palate and a persistent finish that makes it a mouth-watering food partner. Centuries ago, the great Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo wrote that the white wine of San Gimignano “kisses, licks, bites, slaps and stings,” and that remains to this day an apt description for the way this style both sates and piques the appetite by balancing a mild fruity character against a slight vegetable bitterness, like that of radicchio or endive.
Pietrafitta Vernaccia di San Gimignano. $11.99 (regularly $13.99; sale price through Feb. 24). PLCB Item #7581.