Chances are you are familiar with Chianti, one of Italy’s most famous wines. Time to broaden your Italian wine horizons with Carmignano, which once commanded a price topping any other wine in the country.
A History Worth Savoring
One of the great benefits of the rigorous studying to get the Certified Specialist of Wine designation is the introduction to scores of wines that were completely new to me. Carmignano is such an example.
Coming from a tiny DOCG (Italy’s top tier of wine regions) in Tuscany, Carmignano wines caused barely a blip on my wine radar. My attraction to this wine came when I learned that they were “Super Tuscan” before Super Tuscan was cool.
Super Tuscans are the product of rebellious winemakers in Italy who refused to conform to the traditional and stringent guidelines for grape growing and wine production in Tuscany. They wanted to produce wines with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – strictly verboten by the regulatory council.
They pressed onward, selling their wine as “table wine” instead of the prestigious DOCG. They produced some modern classics, such as Sassicaia and Tignanello and eventually the Italian winemaking world buckled and created the IGT category for these popular wines.
Ahead By A Century
The first Super Tuscan, Sassicaia, was produced in 1968 and winemakers in Carmignano may have chuckled. They have been producing wine using international grape varieties for centuries. The roots of the wine can be traced to 1369 when a document mentions that the wine was four times more expensive than any other wine of that time. In the 1700s, Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici established the Carmignano area as a grape nursery which included Cabernet Sauvignon vines from France.
Enter your time machine and set your controls for the present day (actually last month). I was responsible for selecting the wine for a board of directors dinner in Orlando at well known Italian restaurant Il Mulino. I locked in the 2010 Villa de Capezzana Carmignano for the red choice.
Carmignano is a dry red and it did not disappoint paired with a variety of entrees from pasta to steak. Carmignano is at least 50% Sangiovese and requires 10% to 20% of either Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc in the blend. Canaiolo Nero can also make up to 20% of the mix.
Tenuta di Capezzana is a winery with a long history in Tuscany and today produces more than half of all the DOCG Carmignano each year. That’s fine with me. The 2010 bottle was rich in fruit and powerful with blackberry and dried cherry flavors. It finishes with a drying sensation on the tongue.
The Capezzana 2010 Carmignano retails for about $26. That’s a bargain for a Super Tuscan with a boatload of history.