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Panizzi – Vernaccia di San Gimignano, an enduring dream

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Exploring the Tuscan white grape's character and potential.

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.

Ageworthy elegance

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.

Panizzi Vernaccia 2018

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%
94 points

Panizzi Evoe 2016

Evoè, Toscana IGT 2016 
Skin-fermented with a six-month maceration – very well managed – without entering oxidative territory. Elegant, with fine notes of nectarine, white peach and green olive tapenade, topped by a fine herbal layer of mint, dried oregano and thyme. Phenolic charge is subtle and adds texture. Gently saline and nutty with good acid drive. Alc 13.5%
92 points

Panizzi Vigna Santa Margherita 2015

Vigna Santa Margherita, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2015 
Quite a subdued nose, with a fine mineral line. But, in the mouth, there’s fleshiness to this minerality. Subtle top notes of sage, fennel seed and dried mint, lined by a subtle salinity. Elegant finish, with touches of fresh almonds and hazelnut. Lingering liquorice nuances. Alc 13.5%
95 points

Panizzi Vernaccia Riserva 2014 San Gimigniano

Riserva, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2014 
Expressive nose, so citrusy. Frangipane, buttered toast, wild flowers, glazed ginger, apple pie and tobacco leaves complete the bouquet. The palate is vertical and precise, while also delivering the substance of the best Vernaccia grapes. Alc 13%
95 points

Panizzi Vernaccia Riserva 2011 San Gimigniano

Riserva, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2011 
Such an alluring smoky nose of toasted nuts and flint, surrounding an intense fruit core (quince, yellow apple, nectarine, melon, papaya). Great width on the mid palate, with a nutty lining. A beautiful wine, with a very Mediterranean character. Wood tannins add nuance, structure and vibrancy. Alc 13.5%
94 points

Panizzi Vernaccia Riserva 2010 San Gimigniano

Riserva, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2010
A truly elegant wine, precise and poised, still very vibrant 13 years on. Filigreed notes of lemon zest, quince, almonds, hazelnuts and poached pear, with touches of linden and Earl Grey. Spicy twist to the long finish, with a delicious tail of salty liquorice. Alc 13.5%.
96 points

Panizzi Vernaccia Riserva 2008 San Gimigniano

Riserva, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2008
Remarkable, poised complexity, with volume offset by mineral precision. Luscious flavours of frangipane, yellow apple, nectarine and apple peel supported by a fine acid line and a quasi-tannic grip. A hint of crushed roses adds floral appeal. Alc 13.5%
95 points


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