Vernaccia is a white wine grape that is found in many Italian wines but is most commonly associated the Tuscan wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Ampelographers have determined that the Vernaccia vine has many clonal varieties but is unrelated to some Italian vines known as "Vernaccia" such as the Sardinian varieties used in the Sherry-like wine Vernaccia di Oristano, the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol red wine grape known as Vernatsch or the black grape used in the red sparkling wine of the Marche Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. A possible reason for this is that the root of the name Vernaccia translate to "vernacular" and can apply to any local grape
The Tuscan variety of Vernaccia appears to be an ancient variety but ampelographers disagree as to whether the grape's origins are Eastern European, Greek or Roman. In the Middle Ages, a Vernaccia wine known as Vernage was popular in London
Vernaccia is a name applied to a profusion of Italian vines, most of which are unrelated to each other. The name may come from Vernazza, an area in Liguria’s Cinque Terre which produces a white Vernaccia, or be a variation on the Latin “vernaculus,” which, as in “vernacular,” refers to something originating in, and belonging to, a specific place.
Thus Vernaccia di [insert place name] may simply be a way of identifying the “local grape of here or there,” without implying links to other grapes. The divergent presence of a semi-sweet red sparkling wine, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, produced in the Marche, and an oak-aged, sherry-like white wine, Vernaccia di Oristano, produced in Sardinia, seems to support this.
The best known of the Vernaccias, however, is Vernaccia di San Gimignano, named for and produced almost exclusively around the medieval Tuscan city of San Gimignano in the province of Siena. An ancient variety which may ultimately be Greek, Roman or eastern European in origin, Vernaccia di San Gimignano was documented as early as 1276 in the city’s communal records, and was apparently used as currency in commercial transactions and as tribute to the nobility.
Viticulture and winemaking
The white wine grape of Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the most well known variety of Vernaccia and produces crisp wine with good acidity and citrus fruit. It is sometimes blended with Trebbiano but is also seen as a varietal wine
The Sardinian Vernaccia of Vernaccia di Oristano is known as Vernaccia di Oristano. Two other wines that were available in Sardinia in the 1960s were Sardinian Gold and Sardinian Silver. The Marche grape of Vernaccia di Serrapetrona is Vernaccia Nera. "Sardinian Silver" is also the title of a novel (2008) by Canadian British author A. Colin Wright. Many references to the Gold and the Silver appear in the novel.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a fragile though fairly reliable and productive vine best suited to chalky clay or silica and limestone soils. It bears medium sized, round leaves with three or five lobes and large, compact bunches which are elongated pyramidal in shape, and sometimes winged. The berries are round and of medium size, with medium thick, dusky skins which range in color from gold-green to amber depending on exposure to sun. The fruit is moderate in extract with high, persistent acidity.
Depending on the grape’s degree of ripeness at harvest, the wine offers crisp, fresh, medium to full white fruit flavors of elegance and balance and a fine, delicate bouquet of citrus and almond flowers, finishing on a slight bitter almond note.