San Gimignano is a beautiful medieval town located in the province of Siena, just northwest of Siena itself and southwest of Florence. The town is easily identified as one arrives due to the high number of medieval towers that characterize its classically Tuscan skyline. Upon entering the walls of the city, visitors are taken back in time, to the Tuscany that existed before cars and scooters were clogging the streets, and one can almost hear the sounds of trumpets playing and horses clicking about on the cobblestone streets. Visitors are also pleasantly surprised by the many shops boasting the area’s typical white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and some local food specialties including pecorino senese (local goat cheese), and buristo, a blood sausage common in the region.
The star of the town is really the Vernaccia, a dry white wine, and the first to be awarded Italy’s Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status (it has since then been upgraded to Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)). This white wine is produced from the Vernaccia grape, grown on the hills surrounding San Gimignano, where first records of its production date to 1276.
San Gimignano is located near many Tuscan vineyards, as it is situated on the Strada del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which was established in 1999 and brings together wine businesses, agriturismos, restaurants and shops in order to promote the region’s typical products and methods of production to visitors. There is even a Museum dedicated to the Vernaccia di San Gimignano!
An excellent San Gimignano vineyard to experience is the Cappella di Sant’Andrea, a small, family-run organic farm that produces both white and red wines from the San Gimignano region. They produce three different kinds of the typical white Vernaccia wine, the most popular of which is the Rialto Vernaccia. This wine is made with grapes selected from the oldest vines, which are pressed following a cold maceration period of 18 hours. The wine’s mineral quality make it a great choice to age for a few years in the bottle. It pairs well with shellfish, cheese, or light meat.
This crisp, white wine goes well with a variety of food pairings. Its lightness means it can be served every day, and it is especially enjoyable at aperitivo time just before a dinner of white fish or white meat with local vegetables. White wine is also used for cooking in many local recipes. For a simple pan-seared chicken or white fish dish, sauteé some garlic in butter, brown the sides of your chicken breasts or fish filets, and then deglaze the pan with a splash of San Gimignano white wine! You will get a crisp, light wine sauce to pour over your dish that will pair perfectly with the rest of your bottle of wine, sure to wow any visitors you are regaling with your travels around Tuscany!