Spring is almost over and here in Tuscany you can definitely sense it in the air. Fields are turning golden, the silvery olive trees are in full bloom, the sun shines and warms everything up and fruits are taking the place of flowers. That means also that baby grapes are finally visible. Everything in place for this year crop to keep growing and provide the precious ingredient for wonderful wines!
This was exactly the atmosphere at Tenuta le Calcinaie during our recent visit there.
The winery and its owner
The winery is cradled among the hills that surround the beautiful medieval village of San Gimignano. During the last 30 years or so, this small organic farm has grown and evolved along with its owner: Simone Santini.
Simone is not simply the owner though. One could even say that Tenuta le Calcinaie is Simone Santini, and viceversa… He started by planting his first vineyard on one hectare of his uncle’s land in 1985. He was just 21 yrs old then, but already very engrossed in agriculture. Imagine, he started his first vegetable garden when he was only 8 in the garden of the friars in the village! In 1993 he released the first wine, after eight years of good work. In time he acquired more land, adding little by little to that initial patch. Now he has 12 hectares of vineyards with which he produces about 80,000 bottles of wine, both red and white.
The Vernaccia white wine
San Gimignano is the home of the famous and historical Vernaccia white wine, that Dante mentioned in his Comedy. I guess it was probably destiny that he should end up producing it, and a wonderful one too!
Simone’s Vernaccia has everything one could hope to find in a white wine. It has an intense and fresh floral aroma, with a good dose of minerality that make this wine a joy to drink! Full of flavor, but elegantly fresh. The true expression of the local climate and soil, rich of fossils that you can still find aplenty among the vines. One sip calls for the next, excellent as an aperitivo, or with just something to nibble on, but also during a meal. Amazingly refreshing.
The Riserva version of his Vernaccia rests on its sediments for three months before being bottled. It offers bigger body and more intense and fruity aromas. These characteristics make it great with more important dishes, both fish and white meats, or aged cheese.
His red wines
Simone is quite a vivacious man and this comes through all of his wines. His reds include the typical local Chianti Colli Senesi, made with only local varieties: Sangiovese and a touch of Canaiolo. The Riserva, also includes a small percentage of Cabernet and Merlot, to add to the body of this Chianti wine. This makes it perfect for important meat dishes. A pure Merlot, dedicated to his grandfather, aged in oak barrels for 18 months, beautiful also as a meditation wine and last, but not least, a very fresh, pure Sangiovese with no added sulfites that offers amazing fruity aromas and a beautifully clean aftertaste completes Simone’s collection of very genuine and pleasant wines.
His bubbly personality makes a visit to his winery a real fun experience and all of his wines are like the cherry on the top! A real must when visiting the area.