When, in 1979, Giovanni Panizzi purchased the Santa Margherita estate, just outside the walls of the historical town of San Gimignano, he could not have anticipated that the five hectares of Vernaccia vines planted on the grounds would be the beginning of a unique project. 35 years on, Panizzi has become the benchmark producer for Vernaccia di San Gimignano, thanks to ongoing research and a restless commitment to quality.
Much of the success of Panizzi, and its ability to persevere in unveiling the true potential of Vernaccia and of the terroir of San Gimignano, is due to its long standing vineyard and cellar teams, led by general director and head winemaker Walter Sovran. With decades of experience working with Vernaccia and a deep knowledge of San Gimignano’s landscape, Sovran has made the Panizzi dream his own – each vintage is a renewed challenge to himself and the Panizzi team. ‘We won’t release a wine if it’s not at least at the same level of quality as the previous vintage,’ says Sovran.
The Vernaccia dream
This has allowed Panizzi to build a portfolio where consistency and quality are based upon ruthless self-assessment and a passion for the craft of growing grapes and making wine. At the centre of Panizzi’s portfolio are its four expressions of Vernaccia, each contributing in a specific way to a deeper understanding of the grape’s character and potential: from the stainless steel-fermented green label to the skin-macerated Evoé, by way of the single-vineyard Vigna Santa Margherita and the flagship Riserva.
Panizzi currently has 21 hectares planted to Vernaccia, five of which are the old, notoriously low-yielding Santa Margherita plot. They are the core of Panizzi’s operation, both as a source of grapes and as a winemaking project: if Vernaccia was once seen as a ‘little wine’, bought cheaply and drunk young, Panizzi’s mission has been to show its potential for expressiveness and ageability – Vernaccia finally seen as a ‘fine wine’, able to express terroir, varietal identity and vintage variation.
Central to this endeavour has been Panizzi’s decision to produce aged expressions of Vernaccia and, at the same time, hold back some stock from each vintage to show further development potential in bottle. Six months on the lees in used oak and stainless steel followed by one year in bottle are, according to Sovran, key to the character of Vigna Santa Margherita, with the substance and concentration of fruit from old vines really coming through thanks to ‘lees work, time and patience’.
The Riserva Storica takes the role of these three variables even further; released to market only 10 years after vintage, it ages 12 months in oak barrels and nine years in bottle in a daring quest that has challenged assumptions about the grape. A project, more than a wine, ‘Ten Years After – Riserva Storica Panizzi’ will see its new release (2014) launched in 2024, adding another bead in a thread of timeless exploration. The selection of wines shown overleaf have so far proven Panizzi right: Vernaccia di San Gimignano deserves a place among the great wines of Tuscany, defying the test of time and capturing the essence of the landscape it hails from.
Panizzi and Vernaccia di San Gimignano – A journey through time
A selection of seven wines, spanning a decade and showing the different expressions of Vernaccia produced by Panizzi. The common denominators? The grape’s potential for quality and Panizzi’s team craftsmanship at its service.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2018
Very nuanced nose, with notes of almonds, quince, wet stone, dried basil. Robust fruit core offset by a vibrant salinity. Very elegant and subtle with a gentle oily quality (lemon and rosemary oil). Alc 13.5%
Evoe?, Toscana IGT 2016
Skin-fermented with a six-month maceration – very well managed – without entering oxidative territory. Elegant, with fine notes of nectarine,…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/sponsored/panizzi-vernaccia-di-san-gimignano-an-enduring-dream-512803/