Last night I held a room on ClubHouse about Carmignano and in particular tasted the Carmignano DOCG 2017 'Poggilarca' and the Carmignano Riserva DOCG 2015 'Grumarello' of Artimino 1596. I want to make a premise in all sincerity: I knew Carmignano existed because I had already had the opportunity to taste it a few years ago, but I hardly remembered its existence. In the mountain of wines I have tasted in my life, Carmignano is really a great absentee: with these labels I think we are close to 4 labels in total! For me, this appellation is a bit like the unlucky brother of Chianti DOCG... in a class of phenomena - Tuscany - it is that shy student in the last desk at the back, who does neither well nor badly at school and is therefore a bit 'invisible'.
a villa and a Medici royal barco
Carmignano is a Tuscan comune (municipality) of 14,697 inhabitants in the province of Prato, in Montalbano. Montalbano... doesn't that name ring a bell? Yes, it does! Montalbano is also a sub-zone of Chianti DOCG. Carmignano is a place rich in history, a history that is intertwined - as is often the case - with that of the Medici family. It was in Artimino, a medieval walled hamlet of Carmignano on top of a hill in Montalbano that one of the most important Medici villas in all of Tuscany was built, La Ferdinandaa jewel of Renaissance architecture by the now elderly architect Bernardo Buontalenti. Grand Duke Ferdinand I de' Medici was someone who could afford to have a wardrobe decorated with two paintings such as Titian's 'The Portrait of Pietro Aretino' (now in the Galleria Palatina in Palazzo Pitti, Florence) and Caravaggio's 'Bacchus' (now in the Uffizi, Florence). So why not also build a large Barco Reale for hunting activities?
The Barco Reale was a large hunting reserve surrounded by 50 km of walls that had at its heart precisely Villa La Ferdinanda, today the Tenuta di Artimino with 70 hectares of vineyards owned by the Olmo family. Barco, in the ancient languages of the north, actually meant enclosure, a park for livestock. Born out of the need to have an area where game was always available for the family's hunting parties, it soon also became the place of production of one of the Medici family's best-loved wines: Barco Reale di Carmignano, one of the first DOC ante litteram that history remembers, all established in 1716 by Cosimo III. In 1737, due to a lack of legitimate heirs, this great dynasty came to an end and Barco Reale declined year after year until it was dismantled in 1772. The Carmignano, and in particular the Barco Reale di Carmignano, although much loved by the Medici, did not have the time to impose itself on the market, a time that its lucky brother had had, the one that was always in the front row and made a big fuss, the one that I am sure you also know: the Chianti DOCG.
Carmignano DOCG is a red wine produced in the hills between 250 m and 400 m above sea level in the municipalities of Carmignano and Poggio Caiano in the province of Prato. It is made for at least 50% from Sangiovese grapes, for a maximum 20% from Canaiolo Nero grapes, for a maximum 20% from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes alone or combined. It may also contain canaiolo bianco, trebbiano toscano and malvasia del Chianti for a maximum of 10%.
Carmignano can be considered the great-grandfather of today's Super Tuscans, i.e. great Tuscan wines obtained by adding to the Sangiovese - Sangioveto - a French grape, i.e. from France, such as Cabernet and Merlot. Its tradition in these areas is so ancient that, as I have just told you, Cosimo III protected its Denomination with this edict of 1716 together with Chianti, Pomino and Vald'Arno di Sopra, creating the first DOC ante litteram. This is why I find it so unfair that it is not as widespread as other Tuscan wines, and I for one regret not having a vast knowledge of it. But I will make it up to you by going sooner or later to the splendid Tenuta di Artimino with my husband to taste some old vintages (yes, I just invited myself!), I promise!
Carmignano DOCG 2017 'Poggilarca', Artimino 1596
It has a very concentrated, almost impenetrable intense ruby red colour. Swirling the glass shows a certain consistency. The nose is very elegant, with notes of ink, wild strawberries, vanilla, porcini mushroom and violets. In the mouth, it is consistent, fresh, dry, warm, with a great acidic backbone and tannins that still need to be smoothed out. Long fruit on the finish. It needs time to round out, but is already very enjoyable when paired well. Perfect to degrease a fried sardine or a barbecued eel if we want to make a pairing red wine and fish. If, on the other hand, you want to stick to a more classic pairing, pair it with cured meats or first courses with aromatic and/or tasty sauces such as pappardelle with porcini mushrooms or wild boar ragout. It also goes perfectly with the Brillat-Savarin truffléa creamy, fat cheese with Burgundy truffles that I love.
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Carmignano DOCG Riserva 2015 'Grumarello', Artimino 1596
It has a ruby red colour tending towards garnet, concentrated and barely transparent. Swirling the goblet reveals a good consistency. The nose is very elegant, with vanilla notes that betray a passage in wood. Clean and distinct aromas of walnut, black mulberry, tobacco leaves, leather and marasca cherries under spirits. In the mouth it is very pleasant, well-balanced, savoury, with tannin present, but balanced by a nice softness. Great persistence. Perfect with lamb and game, but it also drinks wonderfully on its own. Despite the fact that 2015 was a rather hot year, this wine did not suffer: the aromas are elegant and there are no overly pronounced notes of jammy fruit. In fact, the black mulberries are very fresh! A truly splendid wine with simply exceptional value for money!
Also in the parcel was a bottle of Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC 2019 "Ser Biagio"but I haven't opened that one yet because I want to finish enjoying these two bottles first. Maybe I'll uncork it in combination with Mont Blac cheese that I'll warm up in the oven... what do you say?
If you want to know more, I invite you to have a look at the Tenuta Artimino website.