HISTORY

PIETRAFITTA

Drinking Pietrafitta wine is much more than a pleasant sensorial experience. It’s a journey through time. A journey that unfolds in the past, even prior to the Year One Thousand. In the area that is now ​​the Pietrafitta estate, historical evidence indicates the presence of an agricultural community as early as 961 A.D. These were groups of fortified farmhouses belonging to the Castello dei Fosci, feudal property of the Marquis Ugo Salico of Tuscany.
Ever since those times, among alternating vicissitudes, noble families have dwelled in this enchanting estate. Over the centuries these families have accompanied the estate towards its acquisition, at the end of the nineteenth century, by the Italian royal household of the SAVOIA-AOSTA. Following World War II, and the flight of the monarchs, the royal estate became property of Countess Alba Balbi Valier. In 1966, the work of this strong-willed noblewoman, guided by an deep passion for the wine world, enabled Pietrafitta to produce the very first Italian D.O.C. wines, i.e. wines with a designated controlled origin, with a white D.O.C. wine, the Vernaccia, as well as a red D.O.C. wine, the Chianti.

The original D.O.C. plants are still alive today, and they continue to adorn the farmhouses of this great estate with their precious genetic heritage. One may rightfully state that the official history of Italian wines begins in San Gimignano, in the Pietrafitta estate.

It is the protagonist, for example, at the Medici-Rucellai wedding in 1468, as a gift to the spouses of 40 flasks from the Municipality of San Gimignano, to those of Gian Galeazzo with Isabella, daughter of Alfonso II king of Naples, at the behest of his uncle Ludovico il Moro, and on the table of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who continually asked Vernaccia as a gift from San Gimignano, citing the fact that “… it was a very welcome drink to his mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni and a useful and invigorating remedy for the health of his young son Piero”. To avoid “bad figures” in 1477 in San Gimignano two official tasters were even appointed, so that with caution “… they would provide the best and well conditioned” (From the historical archive of San Gimignano Lib. Provv. N.136, 177 Noble and powerful of the time, such as Ludovico il Moro and Guidobaldo d’Urbino, tried to spread the vine outside the territory of origin, but without success.

Dante Alighieri

Divine Comedy

Purgatory Chap. XXIV

Dante Alighieri himself, wandering among the gluttons of Purgatory, meets Forese Donati who points at a gaunt old man with an emaciated face that is severely paying for the refined taste of eating “eels a la Vernaccia”:

“…Questi, e mostrò col dito, è Bonagiunta, Bonagiunta da Lucca; e quella faccia di là da lui più che l’altra trapunta ebbe la santa chiesa in le sue braccia: da Torso fu, e purga per digiuno l’anguille di Bolsena e la vernaccia.”

(Purg. XXIV, 19-24)

The old man with an emaciated face, native of Tours, is Pope Martin IV (1281-1285) who in life, according to Lama’s commentary to the Divine Comedy, would have the eels of Lake Viterbo brought to him and drowned them in Vernaccia wine, and then would eat them roasted; and he was so attentive to that morsel that he’d request them continually and would have them slaughtered in his room. And as for drinking, he had no way or measure, and when he was well waxed he said: i.e. Holy God! How much we suffer for the Church

Sante Lancerio 1541

Sommelier of Pope Paul III

On the nature of the wines and of PAUL III's travels

After having requested eighty fiascos, i.e. wicker bottles, of Vernaccia from the Municipality of San Gimignano, Sante Lancerio regrets the fact that San Gimignano cultivated art and science too much, and Vernaccia too little because this, says Sante,

“… è una perfetta bevanda da Signori et è gran peccato che questo luogo
non ne faccia assai… Che così come il sito è buono e ben posto et ben
dotato di virtuosissimi uomini, dottori, notari et maestri di gramatica, così
doveria esser abondante de vigne da far tal sorta di vino più che non fa: ha
in sé perfectione; in esso odore; in lui sapore. Di questa bevanda gustava
molto Sua Santità e facea così onore al loco”

M. Buonarroti junior

1634

…Alla nobile terra alta e turrita
del bel San Gimignano facemmo gita…

…Vernaccia
che danno a bere a chiunque vi giunge
che bacia, lecca, morde
e picca, e punge…

Francesco Redi

Bacchus in Tuscany
Florence 1685

Se v’è alcun a cui non piaccia
la Vernaccia,
vendemmiata in Pietrafitta,
interdetto,
maledetto,
fugga via dal mio cospetto,
e per pena sempre ingozzi
vin di Brozzi,
di Quarracchi e di Peretola,
e per onta e per ischerno
in eterno
coronato sia di bietola…

Alessandro Manzoni

Betrothed

Chap. 33

– Sto bene, ve’ – disse don Rodrigo, che lesse nel fare del Griso il pensiero che gli passava per la mente. Sto benone, ma ho bevuto, ho bevuto forse un po’ troppo. C’era una Vernaccia!… Ma, con una buona dormita, tutto se ne va. Ho un gran sonno… Levami un pò quel lume dinanzi, che m’accieca… mi dà una noia…!

Scherzi della Vernaccia, – disse il Griso, tenendosi sempre alla larga. Ma vada a letto subito, ché il dormire le farà bene.

Mario Soldati

Vino al vino 1969

…The Countess Alba Balbi Valier, second «dame du vin» of my journey.
The Vernaccia made in Pietrafitta: a white wine which only resembles the Swiss Fendant
. A wine “tanned” by the African sun. Astonishments of the cellar.
Of Countess Alba Balbi Valier, on the other hand, it could be said that she has made wine
her life’s purpose. In order to pay her a visit … you must go beyond Siena, and
even Poggibonsi, and reach an actual “inner island”, the hills
around San Gimignano’s turreted sky-line, a unique territory where
produce un unicum dei vini: la Vernaccia di San Gimignano
which, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to clarify the production area further,
is called «Vernaccia of Pietrafitta».
Vernaccia of San Gimignano is obtained solely
with the vinification of Vernaccia grapes …
This grape variety is found in all the farmlands of San Gimignano
and particularly in Pietrafitta,
where the remains of the perimeter that enclosed
the great Vernaccia vineyard may still be found today…

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