Say Chianti and you think immediately of Tuscany; say Carmignano and most people have no clue where this wine comes from. And yet, Carmignano used to be the predominant wine of Tuscany, thanks to the influence of the Medici.
It lost its influence over time and Chianti assimilated it and it would still have today been called Chianti if not for the efforts of the historic Capezzana winery. And rightfully so because Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have been a part of Carmignano’s DNA since the 1600s when those two grapes were introduced into Italy by the Medicis.
Under today’s regulations, Carmignano cannot be 100% Sangiovese; there has to be at least 10% either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. This is definitely not the situation in Chianti where the blends can range from no blends to blends of any of a number of certain grapes, including an indigenous white grape.
I learned all of this at a seminar last month in Miami sponsored by the Vinitaly International Academy (as part of IEEM’s Simply Italian Great Wines Americas Tour). It was led by the distinguished Dr. Ian D’Agata. At this seminar, the last of 3 in the first half of the day, Dr. D’Agata was joined by Beatrice Bonaccorsi, the owner of the famed Carmignano winery, Capezzana.
Tuscany is much more than Chianti and Brunello; Carmignano rightfully deserves to be placed on the same pedestal. Try some of these wines and I think you’ll agree.
Here are the wines we tasted with some comments:
- Piaggia Poggio de Colli IGT 2013- not a Carmignano DOC because it’s 100% Cabernet Franc, a grape gainling popularity in other areas of Italy as well
- Piaggia Carmignano Riserva 2012- a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot; a superb representative of Carmignano and a Tre Bicchieri award winner
- Pratesi Carmignano Toscana DOP 2012- same blend as #2 but with more acidity. Carmignano, as Dr. D’Agata commented, is “a marathon runner.” It needs time.
- Pratesi Locorosso Sangiovese Toscana IGT 2012
- Ambra Carmignano Santa Cristina 2012, a blend of 75% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Canaiolo Nero and 5% other grapes
- Ambra Carmignano Riserva Montobiolo 2011, this being a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Capezzana Villa di Capezzana DOCG 2010, an 80/20 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. 2010 was a great vintage and this wine is holding up superbly
- Capezzana Trefiano Riserva DOCG 2008- this wine had some Canaiolo in the blend and showed how a Tuscan wine can not only hold up but improve with aging. It had a deep red color, still very tannic with dimensions of herbs like bay leaf. Even after 8 years, this wine needs more time.
We also had the opportunity to try the Capezzano olive oil, made from 4 different olive varieties. Beatrice told us that they need 1 olive tree to produce just 1 liter of olive oil. It was delicious! Dr. D’Agata also believes that the Capezzano Vin Santo is one of the top 3 made in Tuscany. It’s also a Tre Bicchieri award winner in 2016.
Photo highlights of the Vinitaly Seminar and Simply Italian event: