Vernaccia di San Gimignano grape | White wine variety which takes its name from the town of San Gimignano in Tuscany where it comprises 90-100% of all Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG white wines. Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Piccabòn variety of Liguria are identical (D’Agata 2014).  Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Canaiolo Bianco are distinct and are registered separately in Italy’s official list of grape varieties (D’Agata 2014, who cites research by Storchi et al., 2011). A 2009 study (Torello et al.) suggested Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Bervedino grape of Emilia-Romagna were identical, a conclusion which D’Agata questions, pointing out Bervedino officially continues to be listed separately in Italy’s official register of grape varieties (D’Agata 2014).

Budwood | Another study involving the Vernaccia di San Gimignano consorzio and the University of Siena showed the genetic make-up of the majority of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano studied was similar, indicating that most of the modern San Gimignano vineyards had been planted with grapevines issued from the same massal selections (D’Agata, 2014, p.153).

Synonyms | Ian D’Agata (2014) points out that considering the Vernaccia di San Gimignano variety has been renowned since the Middle Ages it has surprisingly few synonyms. Ian D’Agata (2020, perso) adds: ‘I think the lack of Verncaccia synonyms might be just due to the fact that as the name Vernaccia was [historically] associated with very high quality wines, there was no need for other names, as everyone wanted to use that one because it helped sell.’

In the vineyard | Pentagonal or round leaf. Fairly large, compact bunch. Medium large berries of various shapes, ranging from round to elliptical.

Winemaking | ‘Vernaccia is not very aromatic, and is thus a very transparent grape variety. It is easily over-oaked,’ one of the best San Gimignano growers told me (at the 2019 Anteprima).

Wine style | Pale yellow with green tinges. Flavours of lemon zest, sage, almond.

Bibliography

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p74.

Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019)

Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p.153-5.