Chianti Classico’s Vin Santo DOC (Holy Wine):  Small in Production, Mighty in Flavor

wine - image courtesy of wikipedia
image courtesy of wikipedia

It is so annoying: I have to wait until the end of lunch or dinner to be rewarded with dessert.

When the goal is finally reached, the reward should be close to perfect. It is not a surprise that the Italians have perfected dessert with Chianti Classico Vin Santo DOC. This delicious moment is not just a dessert wine, it’s a sip of history, tradition, and craftsmanship.

Picture this: nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Tuscany, Italy, the grapes destined for Vin Santo undergo a transformation that’s as much an art form as it is a winemaking process. Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes are carefully harvested, left to dry on straw mats or in airy rooms. They soak up the Tuscan sun and concentrate their natural sugars and flavors. Yes, it’s a slow dance with time, combined with a nod to ancient practices that date back to the Middle Ages.

Once the grapes have achieved the perfect balance, they’re gently pressed, and the resulting elixir begins its journey of fermentation in small barrels or traditional terracotta jars known as “caratelli.” Here, the magic unfolds over several years, as the wine develops its signature notes of dried fruits, nuts, honey, and a whisper of caramel. The slow oxidation in these vessels adds layers of complexity, turning each sip into a voyage through centuries of tradition.

The result? A Chianti Classico Vin Santo DOC that boasts a rich amber hue and a luscious, velvety texture that coats the palate like a warm embrace. Its sweetness is perfectly balanced, making it a delightful companion not just to desserts like cantucci (irresistible almond biscuits begging to be dipped) but also to a decadent spread of aged cheeses or a luxurious slice of foie gras.

Here’s the kicker: Vin Santo isn’t churned out like clockwork every year. Its creation is a romance with nature, relying heavily on the whims of weather and the gentle caress of the seasons. When a bottle of this deliciousness is uncorked, I am not just indulging in a dessert wine; I am savoring a rare treasure, a testament to the dedication and passion of generations of winemakers.

The next time you find yourself in search of the perfect dessert, consider Chianti Classico Vin Santo DOC. It’s not just a wine; it’s a taste of tradition, a sip of history, and a moment of pure indulgence.

1.       Il Poggiolino. Il Vinsato 1987.

Late harvest of white grapes, delicately chosen at the pinnacle of ripeness, linger on the vine until November, intensifying in flavor and sweetness. Each berry is meticulously handpicked, then carefully arranged in state-of-the-art ventilated boxes, where they undergo a transformative drying process, ensuring optimal concentration of flavors.

Vinification is a meticulous art form at Il Poggiolino, where the essence of tradition intertwines with innovation. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented in very small “caratelli,” vessels crafted from various woods, imparting nuanced aromas and complexities. Patiently aged for a minimum of 25 years, these elixirs of time develop layers of depth and character, culminating in an unparalleled sensory journey.

Nestled in the heart of the illustrious Chianti Classico region, Il Poggiolino epitomizes excellence in winemaking. From the classic Chianti Classico to the esteemed Chianti Classico Riserva, and the revered Vin Santo, each wine bears the hallmark of dedication and passion.

Among these treasures, the Il Poggiolino Vin Santo from the exceptional 1987 vintage stands as a rare gem. Revered for its opulence and complexity, it embodies the essence of its terroir and the mastery of its creators. The 1987 vintage, heralded as a superb year in Tuscany, blessed the region with ideal weather conditions, yielding grapes of unparalleled quality, marked by exquisite balance and concentration.

Indulging in the Il Poggiolino Vin Santo 1987 is an experience reserved for the discerning palate—a symphony of flavors that pays homage to the rich heritage and unwavering commitment to excellence that defines Il Poggiolino.

2.       Lanciola. La Masse di Greve Occhio di Pernice 2009

Greve is a vineyard owned by Lanciola, and “Occhio di Pernice” refers to a particular style of Vin Santo produced from red grapes, typically Sangiovese, which is less common than the traditional white grape versions.

The Lanciola Le Masse di Greve Occhio di Pernice 2009 is a unique and intriguing wine. The 2009 vintage in Tuscany was generally regarded as very good, characterized by favorable weather conditions throughout the growing season.

Occhio di Pernice Vin Santo tends to have a deeper color and richer flavor profile compared to its white grape counterparts, with notes of dried red fruits, spices, and sometimes a hint of tobacco or leather. It undergoes a similar production process to other Vin Santo wines, with the grapes being dried before fermentation and then aged for an extended period, often several years, in small barrels or caratelli.

Given Lanciola’s reputation for producing high-quality wines, the Lanciola Le Masse di Greve Occhio di Pernice 2009 is a wine of exceptional quality and complexity. It pairs well with a variety of desserts, especially those featuring chocolate or nuts, as well as with aged cheeses or enjoyed on its own as a digestif.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

This is a 2-part series. Stay tuned for part 2.

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Dr. Elinor Garely - special to eTN and editor in chief,

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