It had been almost 2 years since I turned my compact Cinquecento onto the dusty driveway at Campochiarenti. Despite the distance in time, there was a familiarity of being home, a relaxed comfort that was almost tangible. When my host bounded out of his giardino with a smile and a warm embrace, those feelings crystallized. Here I am among friends. Here, I find family.
The afternoon was waning, but as dinner arrangements were later that evening, it left time to catch up and taste. In a flash, Daniele darted for the cantina and returned with a welcoming elixir.
In the past, I’ve made no secret about my love for Campochiarenti’s 2009 Vernaccia. That’s why, when I first smelled the 2014 I could not contain my excitement. Daniele sat quitely, almost pensively, waiting for my reaction but I think the smile on my face gave it away. “How long has this been opened, I asked?” Daniele’s face showed a slight crack, a wry smile and he said, “Three days”…
The 2014 Campochiarenti Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a light to medium gold color. Immediately you are struck by the persistence and complexity of the aromas from this wine. White flowers, lemon grass, citrus notes and a sense of salinity are precise.
On the palate, the wine is clean, fresh and vibrant. The white peach and lemon flavors are medium bodied and balanced well with fresh, cleansing acidity. Throughout, there’s an underlying sense of pulverized sea shells and dusty minerality. Viscous and fresh. This is the 2009 all over again. I’m eagerly anticipating this evolution. 91 points.
Daniele is a farmer who is keen as keen can be to the weather. For those who don’t realize, this doesn’t mean he regularly glances at the 10 day forecast. He’s got sensors installed in his vineyards to gauge all manner of environmental nuances.
As a result, he reviews dew points, humidity, temperature, rainfall, frost, thunderstorms, wind and hail to say nothing of Cinghiale and deer. As I write this, Tuscany is in the midst of a significant heat wave and while temperatures rise to 115 degrees, so too does Daniele’s concern.
The next day, after spending the morning shopping in and around San Gimignano, I returned to Campochiarenti for a casual lunch in the garden while Daniele allowed himself a respite from the heat and dust of his vineyards.
We began with an array of cheeses that highlighted the wonderful fruit of his white wines all the more. The 2014 Vernaccia was poured again; opened now for 4 days. Also on the table was one of Campochiarenti’s newest wines.
The 2016 Divino Amore Bianco is an IGT wine comprised of 85% Vernaccia and 15% other Tuscan varieties. The wine is made to be consumed young and as a result, relies on its youthful vigor for its charm. Boasting a more tropical flavor and aroma profile than the Vernaccia, Divino Amore is fresh and medium bodied. It seems more playful and easy. That’s not to brand it as simple because that wouldn’t be fair. It’s accessible and with lunch, in its element. 87 points.
Over the span of my stay in Tuscany, Daniele and I also made time to sample his latest red wine releases plus his limited edition Vin Santo. Stay tuned as we explore those specialties in Part 2.