It is the niche product for many wineries, tracing the oldest tradition, the simple country actions innate in its character. It is Vin Santo di Montepulciano, the third (but not in order of importance) of the “Nobile” area.
Once called the “wine of hospitality”, it was used to warm up a passing stranger on his way down from the hills, celebrate some happy event, or make a toast on a Sunday after a special meal. Today, Vin Santo is slowly making its way back to a leading role for many wineries in Montepulciano who continue to produce it with impressive results.
The production specifications for Vin Santo di Montepulciano date back to 1996 although it has centuries of tradition. According to the current production regulations (Ministerial Decree of 9th November 2010) there are three distinct designations: Vin Santo di Montepulciano, Vin Santo di Montepulciano – Riserva, Vin Santo di Montepulciano – Occhio di Pernice. The first two use Malvasia Bianca, Grechetto bianco (called “Pulcinculo” in Montepulciano), and Trebbiano toscano grapes. The specifications do not accept the use of aromatic varieties or grapes that are not grown in the province of Siena. The “Occhio di Pernice” has a different combination of varieties: a minimum of 50% Sangiovese with other varieties grown in the terroir.
The traditional fermentation method is extremely typical: the harvested grapes are selected with the greatest care and hung up to dry in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms. Drying makes it possible to obtain the sugar level necessary to make the wine. According to the specifications the grapes must be pressed from the 1st December for Vin Santo di Montepulciano and minimum from the 1st of January for the other tipology and then aged in wooden barrels (caratelli) with a minimum capacity of 75 litres for the Occhio di Pernice and maximum of 300 litres (Vin Santo di Montepulciano). The ageing period lasts for at least 3 years for the Vin Santo di Montepulciano, 5 years for the Riserva and 6 for the Occhio di Pernice.