Panizzi’s red wines – Excellence beyond Vernaccia

Founded in 1989, Panizzi has, in its almost 35 years of history, set the benchmark for Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Thanks to the passion, knowledge and relentless commitment to quality of its founder and team, the winery has become synonymous with this unique Tuscan white grape variety and the eponymous appellation. Panizzi has single handedly elevated the quality standard of Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines, the precise expression of the San Gimignano terroir and unveiled the ageing potential of this sometimes underestimated variety.

While Panizzi’s core range remains dedicated to the different, nuanced expressions of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the winery’s team has also dedicated important research into the potential of local terroirs to produce superior reds. The same conditions that allow Vernaccia to deliver wines of incredible precision – with a fine mineral backbone, subtle acid line and poised texture – are also conducive, the Panizzi team believed, to create filigreed red wines, namely of the fussy Pinot Noir variety. Time has proven them right.

San Gimignano’s other face

Unbeknownst to most, San Gimignano is also a distinct appellation for red wines. Production has so far been mostly associated, as elsewhere in Tuscany, with Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Panizzi’s own red production started with a blend of these varieties: Vertunno Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG Riserva, made from 90% Sangiovese (90%) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (10%). Now in its 30th release (2019 vintage) it has been produced as a single-vineyard bottling since 1989.

Today, Vertunno sits alongside Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Torre Larniano Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG,  and Folgóre San Gimignano DOC to form Panizzi’s more ‘traditional’ red range, based on the trio of varieties. The latter has pride of place as a very limited production (4000 bottles/year), released in excellent vintages only. It yields from one-hectare Lyra-trained vineyard (pictured below), whose vines reflect the wine’s final blend – Sangiovese (60%) Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and Merlot (20%) – and are all harvested together based on the ideal phenolic maturity of the Cabernet. The result is a wine of particular balance and vibrancy, that retains a distinct crunchiness and freshness, while also having plushness of fruit.

Burgundian vocation

This elegance and energy, achieved by Panizzi in its Tuscan blends from its very beginning,  led the viticultural and winemaking teams to explore the untapped potential for one of the most treasured and delicate red grapes: Pinot Noir. Panizzi has led, for more than 15 years, a research project exploring the potential of the San Gimignano terroirs for the growth of the French variety.

Aided by strict sustainability practices (most Panizzi wines are now certified organic) and precision viticulture, the approach is not dissimilar to the terroir specificity Burgundy has become known for, and which has shaped the global understanding of Pinot Noir.

The first outcome of this quest was San Gimignano Pinot Nero DOC, easily recognisable for its blue label. Hailing from the four-hectare La Ventola vineyard – planted in 2006 by Simone Nicollai, who purchased Panizzi from its founder Giovani Panizzi – it has, for over 10 vintages, proven the affinity of the plot with Pinot Noir. Sitting at 410 metres above sea level and planted exclusively to Burgundy 777 clone vines, La Ventola has consistently delivered a delicate, fresh style of Pinot Noir, reminiscent of pre-climate change Burgundy. This consistency motivated the team to create a ‘big brother’, with carefully selected grapes, that could best capture the character of a San Gimignano Pinot Noir.

Walter Sovran

Ermius (the Etruscan for August) was thus born as a challenge in itself, within a research project special in its own right. This perfect expression of the French variety’s local identity, was crafted as a collaborative effort between…

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Panizzi’s red wines – Excellence beyond Vernaccia Panizzi’s red wines – Excellence beyond Vernaccia *Panizzi’s red wines – Excellence beyond Vernaccia