I can't tell you how sick I've been of wine lately. But I don't need to tell you, dear reader, when you can just take a look at the last five posts.
Last month, I went totally bezerk hosting WBW 33 for May: Languedoc-Roussillon value wines. Then I OD'ed at an all-you-can-drink Pinot Noir tasting. And look at me now. Since then I've been blogging about dumpster diving for wine and crack cocaine hits.
It's a frightful picture of excess. Excess and wine do not mix (if you have to keep a 9-5 day job like I do).
So enough! What it's been adding up to is that I don't ever want to see a Syrah -- what I thought was my "desert island" red -- and any other Midi red for that matter, or at least just not till Labour Day. Even lighter-bodied wines like Pinots are off my list.
Wineblogging in general has amounted to a chore as a result of this, with any development around here slow and less than prolific. I actually was contemplating throwing in the towel entirely.
But then last night a San Gimignano came along, picked me up and put Weingolb back on its feet.
What's this? Vernaccia, of the central Italian region surrounding Chianti zones, which is not to be confused with the age-worthy Verdicchio that is big across the hills in Umbria or the more coastal Vermentino of Mediterranean fame. Vernaccia takes its name from the Italian for vernacular, meaning indigenous, so a Vernaccia di San Gimignano is unrelated to any other Vernaccia you may come across. This Vernaccia is my new favourite drink, just in time for balcony season.
NO INTERNATIONAL CHARDONNAY PARADE IN REGIONAL ITALY
There's heap of great history to delve into too. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the definitive and long-honoured white grape of Tuscany. Gee, why would a guy like me wait such a long time to get an introduction?
Hello San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2005. You are but one expression of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, but to me you are more than just an example. You are my first acquaintance to and blossoming endorsement of an entire grape variety and wine style -- a whole Medieval viticultural phenomenon, in fact. No pressure!
If you are interested in this phenom, see the ancient oenological legacy on this fantastically authentic Italian site. Great animations! It's like waking up to watch community programming early on Sunday mornings.
But enough about the Wine -- what about this wine. I would call it spicy lemon with supreme balance, rasping acidity and puckering finish that Jancis Robinson best calls "attractively bitter". Dry, beautiful wine at its summery best. Mmmm... Spicy lemon. Racy, citrusy but with a strong minerality too.
I had it with a garlicky grilled tuna fillets, the kind packed by Pastene and readily available at your grocery store, which I quickly and unceremoniously dump onto a balsamic mixed-bean salad with diced cucumber and orange and yellow peppers. The fish was a delicious match though a dressed salad, as always, is a bit of hitch when serving almost any wine.
San Quirico to the eye is a deep and golden yellow colour (like the photographs of the label suggest) and wonderfully aromatic. This Vernaccia seemed to pack some heft, and while quenching and refreshing might be "job one", it possesses a slightly beeswaxy note that wasn't at all displeasing at the time. It added some depth. With lovely mineral tones and a squeaky clean wet stone quality, it kind of reminded me of some great Rieslings but without the petrol.
I would've taken photos and more exact notes of the glasses I drank but it was hot and I was enjoying sipping it at exactly the perfect temperature.
When I had digested my meal I pressed on to more urgent matters. Like why there are no bottles of this at the LCBO, where I found it in April, and why the SAQ would stock three versions of (rather boring) Tuscan Vermentino, eight respectable bottles Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, but only one Vernaccia di San Gimignano (which by the way is not exactly plentiful in Montreal).
In the meantime, I hope they stop planting Chardonnay in Italy. The regional white grapes that are already there (and in danger of being phased out) are so characterful and so especially aromatic that international Chardonnay is the furthest thing from a suitable update for them.
The only Chard I'm having this summer is some Swiss Chard, tossed with prosciutto and olives, or maybe more of that tuna and bean salad, accompanied by glorious, golden Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
San Quirico, San Gimignano, Italia. 12.5%. Made with certified organic grapes.
[I've never considered an importer important information before but in this case the summer is long and supply isn't so dial up Brunello Imports Inc. of Toronto, the exclusive agent in Ontario for San Quirico at 416-630-WINE (9463). Enjoy!]