The Chianti area is famous for the Chianti Classico wine, which is mostly made with Sangiovese grapes. This beautiful region produces also wonderful white wines. The most famous of them is a sweet white wine: Vin Santo del Chianti. This special and unique wine is produced only by few of the wineries we visit during our Wine Tours.
Vin Santo is very similar to other dessert/sweet wines called “passiti”.
The history behind the name
There are several stories behind the name Vin Santo and we do not know which one is true yet.
Some people think that the name Vin Santo, which means “holy wine”, is related to its role during liturgical celebrations or because the pressing takes place in December. Other say that its “holiness” is due to the the fact that you need a lot of patience to make it.
Types of Vin Santo wine
Sweet wines production is a little different from other wines production.
In the Chianti area there are two different kinds of Vin Santo: Vin Santo del Chianti, for which winemakers use local varieties of white grapes, usually white Malvasia or Trebbiano. They use Sangiovese grapes to produce Vin Santo del Chianti Occhio di Pernice instead.
The production process
They manually harvest in September-October upon full maturation. These bunches are then hanged on the ceiling or laid on straw mats that allow the circulation of air in special rooms for 4 months. They can also be put in specially designed spaces that have artificial ventilation systems. The aim is to dry the grapes and to avoid the formation of molds and fermentation by keeping them well ventilated and in a temperature between 10-15° C. When the grapes are well dehydrated and the sugar concentrated, they are removed from their stems, crushed and put into “caratelli”, small wooden chestnut barrels.
The 50 liter barrels contain a starter yeast, a dark dense sediment called “madre”, which means mother. This sediment is the residue of the previous year production. The level of Vin Santo in the barrel will decrease due to evaporation, over the years. The minimum aging period is three years, after that the sediments are divided from the liquid, obtaining the famous Vin Santo del Chianti.
Vin Santo wine characteristics
It has an intense color that can vary from a pale yellow to a dark golden or amber color. The main aromas you can smell and taste are caramel, vanilla, honey, nuts and dried fruit.
Usually we use Vin Santo as a dessert wine at the end of the dinner.You can find it in many restaurants, but people manly consume it during homely dinner parties. The most common combo is with cantucci toscani, dry almond cookies that people dip into the wine. Vin Santo wine can also be paired with cheese, like sweet gorgonzola cheese o blue cheese. Vin Santo wine is part of Chianti culinary richness, produced according to local tradition. A tasty dessert wine that we highly recommend to you!