Capezzana Vin Santo

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No one’s really got to the bottom of how Vin Santo got its name: because the harvest’s brought in on a saint’s day? Because it was a wine favoured by the Russian Orthodox Church? Some legacy of a Santorini labelling system? Well friends, we can put all that to one side today because we have the answer: Capezzana’s Vin Santo Carmignano is a truly religious experience. One sip and you’re in heaven. I’ll stop now; you get the gist: this stuff is seriously good.

This was one of the stand-out wines of our recent visit to the Capezzana winery in Carmignano, Tuscany (introduced to us by our friends at Liberty Wines). Their Barco Reale has been a staple of the Beehive Place wine list since we opened but we hadn’t had the pleasure of trying their sweet wine until last week. It was worth the wait. It’s a rampant prize-winner, with delicious sweetness, not cloying but clean on the pallet, a golden amber in the glass. You’ll taste the figs, warm caramel, candied fruit and then a faint spiciness at the end, creating a wonderful lasting finish.

The producer’s website details the facts: the grapes (mainly Trebbiano), how long they’re dried for (several months on cane matting) and how they’re fermented and matured (over four years in cherry-wood, oak and chestnut 100 litre kegs.) What it doesn’t say, and you only get to understand in the dim light of their ancient, frescoed, drying room (pictured), is that this is a truly beloved wine, coaxed out of the grape by the gifted winemaker Benedetta Contini like a baby taking its first steps. Hardly anyone but Benedetta herself touches the grapes, which she checks several times a day, they’re cradled on beds of cane cut from the estate (pictured), and it is she who caps their barrels off with clay. Long may that continue and don’t even think of dipping a cantucci into it.