Our tasting impressions
The nose and color is reminiscent of Cognac. Fig and honey are prevalent flavors but it is not overly sweet. Super viscosity, this ambrosial wine is long and splendid. Not the rarity that is Occhio di Pernice but no less sublime.
About this wine
Vin Santo translates to Holy Wine and one can imagine the gods happily sipping it. Innocenti's is a blend of Malvasia Toscana, Grechetto and Trebbiano.
The grapes come from low density vineyards planted on average, 40 years ago in Montefollonico, which neighbors Montepulciano. They are handpicked and collected in small crates. Only the best grapes that are ripe and have tough skins from sparse clusters are selected. They dry naturally in the crates for about about 5 months and then, are pressed. The must obtained from this process - the Madre (mother yeast) -is fermented in small, 50-125L barrels called Caratelli. Innocenti uses chestnut.
The mother (yeast) has been used for generations and provides the unmistakable taste of Vin Santo. Significant evaporation occurs during the many years the wine is in the barrel. By regulation, the final product must not be more than 30% of the original volume of grapes. Technically, this is an oxidative wine because of the protracted maceration and aging.
About the grapes
Malvasia is an incredibly flexible grape variety used to produce many different types of wine. Likely of Greek origin, it was first cultivated about 2,000 years ago. It is prone to oxidizing which is why it is commonly used in fortified wines.
Grechetto is prevalent in Umbria and is the basis for Orvieto. It adds body and structure to the Vin Santo. Trebbiano, known in France as Ugni Blanc, is the main grape in Cognac. It provides acidity and precision.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Mineralité
Vittorio Innocenti, a former philosophy teacher and his son Tommaso run this estate from a 13th century cellar in Montefollonico. They own 32 hectares in and around Montepulciano but only 12 are planted with vineyards of up to 50 years old. The vista views from the back patio are incredible.
They produce seven wines, but the cellars (in multiple locations) are dominated by the small barrels containing Vin Santo - a traditional Tuscan dessert wine. Vittorio says he has enough crops to produce more wine but he can’t because there is no room to store it.
Vittorio speaks no English and I no Italian. So we struggle to communicate in French unless, as usually is the case, his close friend Laura is on hand to translate. Despite the language gap, I like and have a deep respect for Vittorio. He is intensely committed to producing the highest quality wines and takes as much pride in his most modest offering as he does his top bottling.
VDLT is the only North American source for these extraordinary wines.