Our tasting impressions
Another spectacular Vin Santo from Innocenti. This edition is so delicious that restraint is essential to avoid draining the half bottle in minutes. But please restrain, so you can fully appreciate its beauty and precision. Of particular note here is how viscous it is without being heavy. It's sweet, but balanced by freshening acidity. Innocenti's Vin Santo wines are a gift to be admired, respected and enjoyed!
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 are moved into the farmhouse in which Vittorio grew up, to dry naturally in 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 his 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.
Vittorio Innocenti, a former philosophy teacher, started producing wine from his family's vineyards with the 1978 vintage from his 13th century cellar in Montefollonico. There are 32 hectares of vines in Montepulciano and Montefollonico but only 12 are planted with vineyards of up to 80 years old. The vista views from the back patio are incredible.
Today, Vittorio's son Tommaso and his partner Vincenza (aka Nancy) handle most of the work. But Vittorio is the keeper of the intellectual capital for all seven wines - in particular both versions of Vin Santo.
The Innocentis are a gracious, wonderful family. The Guru has known them longer than any other wine producer. He admires their intense commitment to producing the highest quality wines - taking as much pride in their most modest offering as they do in their top bottling.
VDLT is the only North American source for these extraordinary wines that are released much later than most top estates in the appellation. The Vino Nobile, Riserva and Acerone are capable of long and magnificent aging. In the photo to the right, we enjoyed a 1985, 1988 and 1993 at a recent lunch. Their freshness and vibrancy belied their ages.