What is Vin Santo?

Yesterday, we were delighted to have Giovanni Mazzoni visit the us from Castello di Meleto. We were treated to a great line-up of wines which included the first release of Vermentino, a 100% Sangiovese Rosato Chianti Classico, and we finished with their Vin Santo.

castello di meleto

Vin Santo or  ‘holy wine,’ is a dessert wine that is made in Italy. You can find Vin Santo produced in many styles, from very dry like a fino sherry, to as sweet as a late harvest wine. What distinguishes Vin Santo from other dessert wines is the vinification and ageing process. Rather than letting the grapes dry on the vine, they are harvested and left to dry on wooden racks in dry, ventilated rooms. The length of the drying process will determine the sweetness of the wine. Vin Santo may be left to dry for only a few weeks, while others allow the dessication process to concentrate the sugars for several months. The juice is then fermented in small casks that are sealed in concrete for a minimum of 3 years. Afterwards, the casks are cracked and Vin Santo is ready to be bottled.

Vin Santo can be found in most regions of Italy, and is produced under differing DOC regulations. In Tuscany, Vin Santo must have a minimum 16% alcohol and be comprised of Trebbiano and Malvasia (70%) with several other local varietals allowed for the remaining 30%. The Occhio di Pernice, or rosé style, must have at least 50% Sangiovese.  The wines are aged a minimum of 3 years prior to release.

vin santo

The 2007 Castello di Meleto Vin Santo del Chianti Classico is made of hand-harvested Trebbiano, Sangiovese and Malvasia.  The grapes are left to dry for 3-4 months. Castello di Meleto ages the wine in 80-100L casks for 5 years above the wine cellar, much longer than the required minimum. The resulting wine is amber-caramel in colour, and you can tell by how it clings to the glass that it is rich and delicious! The nose is full of dried fruits, clover honey, roasted nuts, vanilla bean and nutmeg. As expected, the wine is lush and thick, coating your tongue in apricot and butterscotch. The finish lasts a lifetime and ends with a slightly elevated acidity. Giovanni suggests enjoying their Vin Santo with aged blue cheese.

WineCollective and Tannic members will be familiar with the Castello di Meleto wines. We have featured several of their previous vintages, including the 2004 Castello di Meleto Rainero and the 2005 Chianti Classico. We look forward to bringing you new wines from this great producer, stay tuned!