In Tuscany, in old country houses, the peasants of the past used to make vinsanto. Every year they would open a keg, filled five years earlier, pouring out only few litres of liquid, which was a real nectar. Only the foreman was entitled to manage this treasure.
Some bottles were locked in the cellar and opened for the children’s nuptials. Some were given away as gifts, and the priest and the doctor were two of the few privileged recipients. When special guests visited the farmstead, the peasants would offer a glass of wine; vinsanto was served only on rare occasions, to those deserving the best of hospitality.
In summer, when the farmhands were engaged in heavy work like harvesting or threshing by hand, or spraying the vines with copper sulphate while carrying the pump on their shoulders, putting their perseverance and resistance to a test, the foreman would personally pour each worker a little vinsanto, using the same glass. This gave everyone the opportunity to take a short collective break, share a joke, wipe away the sweat and maybe even sing a song.
All this happened many years ago, before the farmhands left the farms. Few people stayed. Tractors, cars and TV sets became widespread and no one made vinsanto anymore. It was no longer possible to meet demands. Many low-yielding grape varieties used to enhance the taste and bouquet of vinsanto were disappearing. Above all, there was no time to select the grapes bunch by bunch, then spread out the bunches, hang them, supervise the drying process and, as if that were not enough, wait years for the maturing process to be achieved. No! It was just too much!
Time passed, and people started asking more and more often about good old vinsanto, but the vinsanto of the past was no longer there.
Finally, after so much asking, the miracle happened. Suddenly, a great number of bottles filled with a liquid by this name started coming from everywhere, and covered the shelves of many shops. Inns offered the drink to everyone. The price was very convenient.
But miracles are short-lived, and the excitement stirred by the newest arrival soon died away, and predictably so.
To obtain the genuine vinsanto there are no quick and easy methods. One cannot only use the white grapes discarded from the vinification process of red wines. Suitable vineyards are required, cultivated specifically to make this wine. If one can get a good start from the vineyard, the rest is possible, with lots of time, lots of care, and lots of love.
This is Abbadia Ardenga’s bet.
From this dry, stony and yet wonderful soil, chosen centuries ago by the monks of Coldibuono to build an abbey and plant vineyards, from here, from Montalcino, from where wines renowned worldwide originate, the estate produces small quantities of this white wine, a special and genuine wine, like in the good old days. An incomparable wine to end the meal with dry cakes and biscuits, to exquisitely transform a simple encounter into a memorable experience.
From the “Scarpe grosse” reports