Sunday 11th and Wednesday 14th of February in 2018, the producers of San Gimignano present their new vintages of Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the rooms of the De Grada Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: a unique opportunity to discover the products of the 2017 grape harvest and the Reserves from 2016 and previous years.
There are forty-three producers present, offering an Anteprima (preview) of about a hundred labels of Vernaccia di San Gimignano at the tasting tables and in the room offering a specialist tasting session reserved for the press.
Two days that the Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano dedicates to Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Italy's oldest native white wine grape, with a strong, inimitable identity that became Italy's first DOC in 1966. On Sunday 11th, the Anteprima is open to the public, domestic industry representatives and international buyers, while Wednesday 14th of February is reserved to national and international press.
In order to understand the wines of a vintage it is important to know the climatic trend and the vegetative development of the vineyards: 2017 wrote itself in the history books due to two different events: the spring frosts that badly hit the plants already in an advanced vegetative phase and drought.
After a winter worthy of the name with regard to temperatures (particularly in January, when the averages were half of those of the last two years) but not in terms of rainfall, which had been scarce from autumn, spring burst into bloom in March with warm and sunny weather.
This resulted in buds appearing at least fifteen days earlier than usual during the last ten days of March. The 19th of April saw temperatures plummet, that morning -1° was recorded followed by only +1° the next two days. The frosts in San Gimignano affected a patchwork of areas, but they were especially severe on the valley floor, causing significant damage to the vineyard which had started budding twenty days earlier, with the worst hit losing 30-40% of the year's harvest.
As temperatures rebounded in May, so did the vegetative development which slowly returned to normal. The frost-ravaged vines budded for a second time from the sub buds, which went on to produce fewer flowers than the original buds would have done, resulting in fewer bunches of grapes.
This was followed by a late spring and summer that basked in sunny weather. Rain was scant and sporadic, the month of August offered little respite: just a single storm on the 10th coupled with high temperatures marked by some hot, sultry days.
This led to an early harvest, which started in many wineries on the 28th of August.
The reduced grape yield and the drought drastically lowered the production of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, falling 25.69% compared to 2016: a quarter of the bottles had been lost. 2017's harvest produced 31,651 hectolitres of wine from the 720 hectares of vineyards reserved for Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Given the lower quantity, expectations with regard quality have risen since the harvest: the acidity has been preserved by the moderate temperature difference between day and night, which are always cool and breezy in San Gimignano; this has resulted in a well-structured Vernaccia 2017 with a complex aroma profile perfectly in keeping with the characteristics of this appellation.
As for Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2016, the wines are the fruit of a fine, typical vintage, distinguished by excellent aromas at an optimal stage of development and balanced acidity. They are wines to be enjoyed right now, but with a potential development meaning they can be appreciated for many years.
In 2017, 5,138,603 bottles of Vernaccia di San Gimignano were produced from the 2016 and previous years' vintages, a slight decrease compared to the average of previous years.
However, the appellation registered a 16-million euro turnover, amounting to some 40% of the total value of San Gimignano's wine sector.
2017 saw little change in the percentage of Vernaccia di San Gimignano exported: it stood at 52%, with 27.5% destined to the European market, 18.9% to the American, and 4.7% to the Asian market.
The main European market is once again that of Germany, which alone accounts for 9.8% of exports, followed by Switzerland (3.8%), UK (2.7%) and the Netherlands (2.6%). However, overall the most important market is still the United States, which imports 16.3% of production.
The majority of the 42% of Vernaccia purchased in Italy is sold in San Gimignano: 19% by the estates and wineries directly and about 16% by local businesses.
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