Teruzzi & Puthod Rondolino Vernaccia di San Gimignan 2003
When it comes to stellar quality white wine in Tuscany, the Teruzzi & Puthod estate in San Gimignano stands heads and shoulders above the rest. This pioneering producer helped to usher this region’s historic Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines into modern times, and today is the indisputable benchmark against which all other Vernaccia wines are judged.
The Teruzzi & Puthod winery was founded in 1974 with the mission of producing high quality wines, thus improving the standard of this unique territory, rich in winemaking history and tradition. It was two outsiders from Milan – husband and wife, Enrico Teruzzi and Carmen Puthod, who pioneered the area’s winemaking renaissance, leading a quality revolution with avant-garde methods of vinification, the art of aging wine in barrique, and the blending of indigenous and international varietals. The latter is famously exemplified by the estate’s “Terre di tufi,” which debuted in 1984. Considered one of Italy’s best whites, it has been a cult wine since its creation. For years, Teruzzi & Puthod has been part of “Global Quality,” an eco-friendly project that avoids the use of products which, while permitted, are not particularly compatible with the environment.
The estate covers a sizable 445 acres with 232 acres planted with vineyards. 148 acres are dedicated to Vernaccia, making Teruzzi & Puthod the largest privately owned estate cultivating this grape variety. The region has a continental climate, with cold and rainy winters and hot summers.The soils are mostly sandy with some clay.
Teruzzi & Puthod’ consultant winemaker, Giuseppe Caviola, is considered one of Italy’s most respected consultants, having traveled and worked throughout much of Italy. Giuseppe’s wines consistently garner critical acclaim and awards. The estate is owned by Terra Moretti Vino, an Italian company with strong ties in wine production, including the premium Franciacorta estate, Bellavista. As the parent company, the Moretti group acts in a supporting role, continuing the Teruzzi & Puthod’s legacy for producing outstanding white wines.
One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.
Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.
Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.
Vernaccia's intricate history has roots in San Gimignano, whose main village’s quaint restaurants and steep pedestrian-only cobblestone streets make it as romantic—if not more—as any other Tuscan village. The idyllic countryside upon which this vine grows was actually named Italy’s first DOC in 1966. The 13th century marks its first written record and the grape was celebrated widely in literature, for example in poems by Dante and Franseco Redi.
Sapid with a mineral persistence, Vernaccia also offers up generous amounts of white peach and melon. It has lovely floral qualities, plenty of verve on the palate and often a fresh note of green almond. Vernaccia goes with so many dishes including cooked or raw fish, puff pastry appetizers and hard-to-pair vegetables like asparagus and artichoke.