Exploring Tuscany: 1997 Fattoria Villa Spoiano – Vin Santo del Chianti DOC

Only recently I had the chance to try a 1997 Fattoria Villa Spoiano Vin Santo from Tuscany, Italy. Today I want to share my tasting notes with you. The answers for the wine quiz are postponed to tomorrow.

What is Vin Santo?

Vin Santo is a sweet wine that originated in the Chianti area of Tuscany. Most of the time it is produced from white Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes. However, wineries may add Sangiovese to produce a pink Vin Santo known as Occhio di Pernice. Depending on the DOC-appellation, Vin Santo ages between 3 and 10 years in small chestnut barrels and/or oak barrels. The wood used for Vin Santo varies and sometimes cherry wood and juniper are used, too. It is common to age Vin Santo in different woods and to blend it together only prior to bottling. This makes the wine more complex and gives the wine more flavor and aromas. After harvest the grapes get sun-dried on straw mats until they almost turn into raisins.

The name Vin Santo, the ‘holy wine’, is of uncertain origin but it is most likely that the wine was used during the mass. Starting from the 14th century, merchants from Florence started encouraging Tuscan wineries to produce lots of sweet wine which then was exported to Rome where it was for the holy mass. At some point the Florentines started to call this sweet wine Vin Santo. A few centuries later, Vin Santo was heavily exported to Russia because the Russian Orthodox Church was looking for a sweet wine that they could use for their mass.

Because the demand for Vin Santo has increased a lot over the centuries, more and more wineries started to produce Vin Santo. However, some of them are not so successful and as a result the Vin Santo that they produce is often turned into vinegar that is similar to balsamic vinegar from Modena.

A good Vin Santo can be aged for more than 15 years.

Fattoria Villa Spoiano

Tavarnelle Villa SpoianoBetween the hills of Siena and those of Florence lies the agritourism Fattoria Villa Spoiano. Just outside the village Tavarnelle, in the heart of Tuscany Villa Spoiano produces olive oil, vinegar and of course wine. Three white, one sparkling, one pink and seven red wines as well as Vin Santo del Chianti. The agritourism has a restaurant that serves typical Tuscan cuisine and offers accommodations for those who wish to explore the beauty of Tuscany.

Here are some pictures that show the breathtaking scenery of the Florentine hills and of Tavarnelle.

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Tasting Notes 1997 Fattoria Villa Spoiano Vin Santo del Chianti DOC

1997 Villa Spioano - Vin Santo del Chianti DOCThe Vin Santo from Fattoria Villa Spoiano is produced with Trebbiano and Malvasia and the wine aged for at least four years in different types of wood. The wine is classified as Vin Santo del Chianti DOC. Interesting to know: The appellation Vin Santo del Chianti DOC was established in August 1997. Before that, Vin Santo del Chianti was labeled IGT Toscano

In the glass, the Vin Santo had an amber-golden color. On the nose, intense aromas of candid apricot and candid orange as well as hints of smoke and honey. In the mouth, I tasted honey, raisins and candid fruit. The Vin Santo was sweet, a little bit crisp and complex. Lingering finish.

3.5 / 5 stars      

This Vin Santo from Fattoria Villa Spoiano is worth trying – however I tasted better ones. The wine was definitely over its peek and I am looking forward to try a younger vintage of this Vin Santo.

What is your opinion on Vin Santo? Have you tried it before and did you like it?

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31 comments on “Exploring Tuscany: 1997 Fattoria Villa Spoiano – Vin Santo del Chianti DOC”

  1. Marco van Puff Reply

    Great and informative review. Tuscany is one of my favorite traveling destinations. Would love to go back some day. The photos look so nice πŸ™‚
    I don’t like sweet wine a lot.. But I definitely would have tried that 1997 vintage! Very nice bottle πŸ™‚

  2. Suzanne Reply

    I like Vin Santo but only on occasion. It’s a great dessert wine and I mean as a dessert because it’s pretty sweet. If I have it alone I like it chilled, seems to cut the sweetness a bit and not sure if thats they way it’s supposed to be served but it’s the way I like it. My grandfather used to have vin santo all the time, dipped biscotti in it, it’s actually really good.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Suzanne,
      Vin Santo, like any other white wine, has to be served refrigerated – otherwise it doesn’t taste good.
      It’s so cool that your grandfather dipped biscotti (probably cantuccuini?) in the Vin Santo because that’s the traditional Tuscan way! If you ever eat in a restaurant in Florence or in Tuscany in general then they will most likely have Vin Santo with cantuccini as dessert.

  3. Andy Andy Reply

    Is vin santo the same as passito? I never had one but I would love to try one! Which one can you recommend me?

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Andy,
      Vin Santo is definitely a passito because the grapes undergo the appassimento process where the grapes get sun-dried on straw mats.
      At the moment my favorite Vin Santo is produced by Fattoria Di Romignano. I will review it in the upcoming weeks.

  4. foodwine88 Reply

    Why didn’t you let me know that you are going to open 1997 Vin Santo! I think we really had a good time the last time we enjoyed a bottle of wine together. We should do that again but I don’t know when I’m back in Europe. Probably in two months or so.
    I absolutely love all types of dessert wines!

  5. theducksong Reply

    I’m not a fan of Italian sweet wine in general but thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!

  6. drinkforlife Reply

    Wow did I just read 16.5% ABV on that label? I think everything with more than 16% ABV is not considered wine anymore πŸ˜‰
    Did it taste like Sherry?

  7. Linda Reply

    I’ve been wanting to try a vin santo ever since I read about them. Thanks for sharing your tasting notes. I think I’d love it. Your pictures are beautiful.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Linda,
      Vin Santo is a great dessert wine. Right now my favorite one is from Fattoria Ispoli. If you stumble over it in the States then maybe give it a try πŸ™‚ I will review it next month probably.

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  9. hannah-theis hannah-theis Reply

    I’ve tried Reciatio di Soave before but never tasted Vin Santo!
    fantastic story – never would have thought that Vin Santo was heavily exported to Russia : -)

  10. winetalks winetalks Reply

    I tried lots of sweet wine when I was visiting Italy. Vin Santo is delicious but my all-time favorite dessert wine is still BenRye from Donafugata

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Frank,
      Not every Vin Santo tastes the same but I agree that Ben Rye is a spectacular wine. However to stay on the subject I recommend that you try the Vin Santo from Fattoria Romagnola. It’s outstanding and I will review it soon.

  11. armchairsommelier Reply

    I still haven’t tried a Vin Santo . . . but it’s on my list! I’ve tried wines made in the Vin Santo method . . . and they are unique. Thanks for the knowledge and gorgeous photos! Salud!!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Armchairsommelier,
      Let me know how you like Vin Santo after you’ve tried one πŸ™‚
      Vin Santo is basically a passito wine because the grapes undergo the same appassimento process.

  12. Sean P. Reply

    Vin santo with almond cantuccini is my all-time favorite dessert. I think I will have that after dinner tonight! Thanks, Julian!

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