The Vin Santo is a dessert wine made from grapes dried on mats, trellises or hung from hooks in naturally ventilated areas. The name probably comes from the Holy Week, a period in which the pressing of the grapes took place, or because it was used during the Holy Mass.
The harvesting of the grapes for Vin Santo is made in a premature manner to have healthy grapes with the right amount of acidity, essential in the taste balance of the wine. Once drying is concluded the grapes are crushed and placed in containers, kegs, sealed with a cork, strengthened and allowed to age in the cellar. During aging which takes place no earlier than December 1 in the year of harvesting and no later than March 31 of the following year, sediment forms which none other than the yeast that remained inside the cask.
The aging of Vin Santo has as a minimum duration of three years, during this phase the pressed grape juice undergoes several changes, among which the most important are alcoholic fermentation and acetic fermentation which, besides transforming the juice into wine (alcoholic), will impact considerably on the organoleptic profile (both alcoholic and acetic).
For Vin santo producers it shouldn’t be a business, rather a passion because in order to obtain a product of excellence costs will be high both in terms of production due to the very low yield and in terms of the long production times.
Grape varieties used: White Malvasia, Trebbiano Toscano, San Colombano and in southern Tuscany also the Grechetto, while the famous Occhio di Pernice Vin Santo is produced with a minimum percentage of 50% red berry grapes and the grape varieties used are Sangiovese and Canaiolo. The product can be sweet, pleasing, and dry with a minimum alcohol content of 15.5%.
The Vin Santo has an intense golden yellow color with amber shades of gold and hints of raisins, honey, candied fruit, dried fruit it even has a slight hint of acetic and aromas of spice and vanilla.
The perfect Vin santo combination is with dry pastries such as the typical Siena Ricciarelli, the biscuits of Prato or cantuccini, with buccellato and chestnut cake. The dry Vin santo can be combined with liver crostini and cheese.
To produce the Vin Santo passion and patience is necessary, the more it ages the better the result will be… and it is precisely for these characteristics and peculiarities that the Vin Santo is a great sipping wine!
Andrea Ranfagni and Andrea Biagiotti
Photo at the top of: La Tête Krançien
Foto in alto di: La Tête Krançien