The Montenidoli Dialogue: Italian Discoveries

2005 Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano Tradizionale
White Wine; other white varietal; Tuscany;
$19.99
Add to Cart
$14.44 per bottle with mix/match case discount.
2006 Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano Fiore
White Wine; other white varietal; Tuscany;
$22.99
Add to Cart
$19.54 per bottle with mix/match case discount.
We have some new wines that John found on a recent buying trip. They’re not like any wines we’ve carried before, and we’re all very excited about them. So excited that when it came to writing them up, we all wanted to. In the end John (JC) and Patrick (PM) were the most eloquent. So this week, we have a sort of dialogue on wine. Or maybe more like alternating monologues.
THE QUEST
JC: As I stood with Elisabetta Fagiuoli at Montenidoli, looking down upon the splendid medieval town of San Gimignano and its magnificent towers (Italy’s 15th century Manhattan), I thought of the circuitous route that brought me here. Beginning several years ago, each time I visited Burgundy, I heard the name Elisabetta spoken with tones of affection and admiration. I wondered, ‘who is this woman and why are Burgundians talking about her?’ To make a long story short, Elisabetta was a great friend of Henri Jayer and she had recently been in Beaune attending that great man’s funeral. It seems she had brought some of her wines with her to share with friends. She is such an open and impassioned woman that she quickly ‘adopted’ a new son – Jean- Pierre Cournut (Maltroye) and became great friends with Marie-Blanche Lamarche, and our broker Jeanne Marie de Champs. All I heard was Elisabetta this, Elisabetta that, and Elisabetta’s fabulous wines. What on earth had possessed these Burgundians?

Not long after my return to San Francisco, I was organizing my day off when my home phone rings. I answer, and a melodious voice says: ‘hello, this is Elisabetta, I am in San Francisco and I would like to meet you.’ I immediately knew who she was and arranged to see her. In the limited time she had, I found her hotel and decided we could talk while showing her some of the touristic highlights of San Francisco’s fabled topography. The visit ended with an invitation to visit Montenidoli and its remarkable owner. I finally made it in late March before going on to Bordeaux for the annual grand cru tastings. What I found were remarkable wines with minerailty, salinity and energy. They seemed to at once reflect the personality of Elisabetta and the beauty of Montenidoli. I ordered them, and when they arrived, I introduced them to the staff …

THE BOUNTY
PM: After I tasted these wines, I actually considered shipping some to my in-laws … in Italy. It may sound odd, but I bet they’ve yet to experience a Vernaccia of this caliber. First off, they reside in Italy’s deep south, and can harbor suspicion of anything north of Naples. Secondly, even in sun-drenched Brindisi, there seems to be little place for white wine. I recall a big Sunday lunch a few summers ago when the temperature was pushing 44 celsius where rough, but honest Negroamaro and headily alcoholic Primitivo flowed freely as sweat poured from my brow. I longed for something mineral, crisp and refreshing, and I would have welcomed with open palate one of Montenidoli’s bright, yet complex Vernaccie. And I suspect the absolutely delicious mussels and swordfish at the table would have been happier, as well. If I could get this in their glass, I imagine an ‘Aha’ moment much like when an “I only drink California Cab” drinker is converted by their first glass of high quality Burgundy.

Elisabetta Fagiuoli is making white wines at such a level of complexity (as John notes above, Jean- Pierre Cornut of esteemed Burgundy house Chateau de la Maltroye holds them in very high regard), that we couldn’t resist them, and honestly find them to represent great value for the level of quality and ageability. Think Vernaccia is the knock-back white of Florentine cafes? Not anymore. We were all so passionate about these wines after tasting them that none of us could keep our mouths shut about them. I’m happy to be a part of introducing you to a truly unique experience in Italian white. My tasting notes are below.

2005 Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano Tradizionale
White Wine; other white varietal; Tuscany;
$19.99
Add to Cart
$14.44 per bottle with mix/match case discount.

This is vivid and quite expressive for the varietal, with an initial burst of tangerine and flinty minerality on the nose. While zingy on the palate, it’s bit of bottle age (these wines actually need time) has given a gentle roundness to the texture A pleasant hint of pine resin and noticeable salinity (the vines sit on an ancient seabed) play against a lemony note on the charming finish.

2006 Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano Fiore
White Wine; other white varietal; Tuscany;
$22.99
Add to Cart
$19.54 per bottle with mix/match case discount.

This exudes a cool sense of elegance from the very beginning, with a lovely nose of subtle lemon and marzipan. Slightly bitter (but pleasantly so) on the palate, with citrus pith, more saltiness, and more quiet nuttiness, it seems to float like a feather along the palate, but finishes with a bracing burst of refreshing acidity.

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Filed under Italy, John Carpenter, Patrick Mitten, Tuscany

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