02-Planeta_manchette_175x100
Allegrini 2024
TRENDS IN THE GLASS

The “renaissance” of Vinsanto, from Chianti Classico to Chianti Rufina, as an all-meal wine

While Pieve di Campoli tells that of Florence’s Duomo to enthusiasts, Tenuta Bossi-Marchesi Gondi accompanies it to the Michelin-starred kitchen

To appreciate Vinsanto in all its graceful magnificence one needs to have a vision about the world of wine that goes beyond the glass and tasting notes and observes with sincere curiosity the set of factors that make up “the art of drinking”. And Tuscany, a land with a vocation for its centuries-old tradition, is an example of how wine productions have established themselves in the world for their undoubted quality but also thanks to their solid history made up of centuries of grape harvests and sedimentation in the daily lives of the inhabitants and in the agricultural-pictorial work of shaping the territory done by farmers over time. Wine rises to an imaginative vehicle and capable of geolocalizing the mind in a given place and history. The gentle hilly landscapes, the lacework of castles, the handmade iron farm implements, the parish churches, the cypresses and their resin, the early summer poppies, the hay bales, and then hills and more hills, rough stone, ancient stories, myths and legends, when one drinks a glass of Tuscan wine, whatever appellation or brand it belongs to, the consumer’s imagination is set in motion. Summa maximum of this ritual expression of drinking is Vinsanto. Whether it is in a civil context or a religious one, the chalice with its typical golden-orange color itself becomes a ritual, thanks to its uniqueness, the frank tradition it passes on and the concept of waiting in time that distinguishes it.
The vinsantaia is a room on a farm that carries a whole spirituality and sacredness of its own as a place where time flows naturally without human alteration, only grapes drying on racks and then must aging in the kegs. Passing years, seasons, fashions, wars and conflicts that exist within society are nothing in front of the progress of the natural processes of fermentation and refinement of the sweet nectar of the grapes that in silence and tranquility develop their sugar content and viscosity so pleasant in the mouth and a slight, almost imperceptible, volatility that quenches the thirst with the delicate hint of acidity. From grandfather to grandson, from father to son, the secret of a good vinsanto has been handed down in the families of Tuscan producers and farmers since the dawn of time. So in a ritual that has been handed down in this way, on tables in the countryside from Chianti Rufina to the mountainous wilderness of Monte Amiata, and in parallel in religious services, from parish to parish, Vinsanto is, par excellence, a taste of tradition.
In the “pop” expansion of wine from the 1960s to the present, a wine gem of the caliber of Vinsanto has been relegated to the role of dessert wine. Often, unfortunately, as a drink to accompany Tuscan cantuccini, thus ruining the technical effort of the producer. Today that Tuscany is on the roof of the world with international critical accolades pouring in for reds, Vinsanto is also crying out for redemption. Indeed, a rebirth. A theme that in Tuscany, a land where the Renaissance was born, is central.
For some historically wine-producing families, as in the case of the Gondi family, and Vinsanto is a true affection of the heart. In the Bossi - Marchesi Gondi estate in Chianti Rufina between Pontassieve, Le Sieci, La Rufina, Compiobbi and Girone, Vinsanto wants to have the right to be a wine for the whole meal, sweet and “stilnovista” as Master of Wine Gabriele Gorelli defines it, called upon to tell its story in this new guise in recent days at Palazzo Gondi a stone’s throw from Piazza della Signoria and Florence Cathedral, with Vito Mollica, star chef of L’Atto at Palazzo Portinari and Bernardo, Gerardo and Lapo Gondi at the helm of the family estate. Who proposed a menu to show that one can break down schemes and preconceptions and that the absolute grace of this wine, Vinsanto, can be brought to the table without fear. Precisely a Stilnovo, a happy season of Italian literature that saw in Dante, Cavalcanti and Guinizzelli inaugurate a true stylistic and moral language in the name of grace. And we look forward to the return, in an ever future perspective, to the spread and respectful consumption of Vinsanto, which is more than a commodity but a sign of the grace of Creation in the chalice.
And if Vinsanto for Marchesi Gondi is a family affair, there is a reality in Tuscany for which it is true “liquid theology”, a tangible expression of a faith embodied as Catholicism: the Pieve di Campoli, a farm of the Diocesan Institute for the Support of the Clergy-managed by an agronomic and oenological team headed by Andrea Paoletti, a historic manager and master in the knowledge of viticulture and wine in Tuscany who started the production of Ornellaia in Bolgheri and worked for many years for Marchesi Antinori-that produces the Vinsanto with which Holy Mass is celebrated inside the Cathedral of Florence. The same Mass, the same altar, where in 1478 the Congiura de’ Pazzi occurred that saw Giuliano De’ Medici killed and Lorenzo the Magnificent wounded. And at that time, too, mass was celebrated with Vinsanto from the lands of Chianti Classico. From the area of Cortine to San Donato in Colle, opposite the famous Isole and Olena, to the lands where the parish church of Campoli is physically located, next to the vineyards that give life to Tignanello, Vinsanto is at the center of the life of the faithful in religious services.
So, in the productions of Marchesi Gondi and those of Pieve di Campoli we observe two parallel and different rituals, but united by the pleasure of anticipation. From the pleasure of making a specific product that survives the test of time. Today amidst passing fads and media frontal attacks on the world of wine, in the disaffection of the new generations toward the nectar of Bacchus, and climate change, it is precisely Vinsanto’s turn to keep alive the tradition of a full-bodied and fat, richly flavored drink. With productions in niche collector numbers, this wine product is a true art form, a unique piece. And only thanks to the quality brought to bear by wineries such as that of Marchesi Gondi in Chianti Rufina and Pieve di Campoli in Chianti Classico and many others scattered throughout Tuscany will it be possible to unhinge those limiting and sedimented mental archetypes that see one of the world’s most sacred beverages reduced to a mere dessert accompaniment.
The message launched by the Gondi family and Pieve di Campoli, which has opened its own store in Florence’s Piazza Duomo to allow tourists from all over the world to take home a bottle of “sacred oenological art”, is that Vinsanto is a wine that can be for the whole meal that supports the most daring pairings in the kitchen, as Chef Mollica demonstrated by presenting to national and international critics a menu supporting Vinsanto vintages from 1988 to 2006 from Tenuta Bossi, whimsical and reasoned with chrism and variations in taste, playing on contrasting flavors: From Risotto on Cibreo to Baked Quail, from Foie gras to a triptych of Tuscan blue cheeses. Or that Vinsanto is an end-of-meal wine, but not as an accompaniment. Rather, it is itself precisely the end-of-dinner dessert to be enjoyed in dutiful meditation, with respect sipped afterward. And now that Vinsanto and Cantucci end up on a special coin in the Numismatic Collection 2024, valued at 5 euros and which will be on sale from March 5 for a total of 7,000 pieces, it is important that alongside the purely folkloric celebrations there is a real sense of spirituality every time one takes a sip of the most historic wine we currently find in the world, beyond the notes and tastings, when it is made to perfection, a Vinsanto that celebrates the ritual of life.

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