On February 14th, the day most people are going out to celebrate with their loved ones, I had a lovely experience of Carmignano DOCG wines at Villa Artimino. I went there with Marco Gemelli, a wine journalist, and friend of mine, and his wife as well as Helen Farrell, the editor of The Florentine, and her husband. And I mean, really, is it not cooler to on Valentine’s Day get to hang out with the people at Villa Artimino and taste their Carmignano wines rather than having a romantic dinner for two…? Joking!
Anyway, it was a fun evening where we got a lovely dinner with the owner, Annabella Pascale, and some other people at the restaurant Biagio Pignatta that is part of the Villa Artimino estate.
Let’s now get down to business and talk history and wine in Carmignano…
From the Medici family…
Tenuta di Artimino and its owners have an intriguing history. Tenuta di Artimino has a rich past to lean on but the present owners have a story just as fascinating to tell.
Where should we start? Well, let’s start with the hamlet of Artimino, where today’s Villa Artimino is situated, and its history that dates all the way back to the Etruscan era.
Much later, during the Rinascimento, the hamlet entered the hands of the Medici family. Soon, in the end-16th century, Ferdinando I de’ Medici appointed Bernardo Buontalenti as the head architect to build the Villa ‘La Ferdinanda’ there. Villa ‘La Ferdinanda’ turned into the gaming and summer residence of the Medici family.
In the 17th century, they built the Barco Reale which was a sort of enclosure, or wall, that surrounded the entire property and functioned as a game reserve. The Barco Reale DOC wine has gotten its name from this wall. Today, there are still remains of a Barco Reale arch at the Villa Artimino property.
Another important aspect about Villa Artimino and the Carmignano area is that it was Caterina de’ Medici, the daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Queen of France in the mid-16th century, who imported the grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon to Carmignano. What is special about this, is that Cabernet Sauvignon by now is considered as a native grape variety in Carmignano.
Today, Tenuta di Artimino comprises 80 ha (197 acres) of vineyard and they produce wines within both the Carmignano and Chianti denominations as well as IGT wines. They cultivate a wide range of grape varieties such as Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Canaiolo, Merlot, Gamay, Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, and San Colombano.
…to Bicycle Stardom
Giuseppe Olmo was a famous road bicycle racer in Italy in the 1930s. He won an Olympic gold medal in team racing in 1932 and set a world record in 1935 on the 45.090 km distance.
After his days as a star in the road bicycle racing world, he started a new path as a bicycle manufacturer with the brand Olmo Biciclette. He turned it into a very successful business and branched out into several other industries.
Since some time back, they are also in the wine industry and owners of Tenuta di Artimino in Carmignano. When I was there in February, I met the granddaughter, Annabella, who is the present CEO of Tenuta di Artimino. She is a young, vibrant, and dynamic person and it was a lot of fun to learn more about the winery and their family during the dinner.
Carmignano, the smallest DOCG in Italy
Carmignano is an area which comprises only 220 ha (about 540 acres) of vineyard. Thus, it is indeed the smallest today in Italy. There are only 11 wineries belonging to the Consorzio Vini Carmignano. Tenuta di Artimino is, of course, one of the main and more historical of these wineries.
The earliest mention referring to wine production in Carmignano seems to date from a scroll in the early 9th century. Further on, Carmignano wine was also mentioned, for example, in a document in the 14th century, and then in the 17th century by the Tuscan scientist and poet Francesco Redi who praised its quality in one of his poems.
As I mentioned above, the French grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon was introduced in Carmignano already in the 16th century by Caterina de’ Medici. The Carmignano area can, indeed, be considered the first in Italy to have started producing international blends. This type of wines would four centuries later be defined as so-called Supertuscans in the Bolgheri area.
Another landmark in the history of the Carmignano district is that it was included in the announcement of Grand Duke Cosimo III of Medici on September 24th in 1716. In this announcement, Cosimo III of Medici marked out the four best areas to produce high-quality wine in Tuscany, namely Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano, and Val d’Arno di Sopra.
If we now move forward to more contemporary times, Carmignano received its DOC status in 1975 and then became a DOCG in 1990.
According to the regulation, the Carmignano DOCG needs to contain at least 50% Sangiovese. Thereafter it can have max. 20% Canaiolo nero, between 10 and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, separately or mixed, and max 10% Trebbiano toscano, Canaiolo bianco, and Malvasia del Chianti, separately or mixed. As you notice it is allowed to use up to 10% of white grape varieties in the red Carmignano wines.
Wine Tasting at the restaurant Biagio Pignatta
After a quick tour of the grounds, we headed for a private wine tasting at the restaurant Biagio Pignatta that belongs to Tenuta di Artimino. It felt like a bit of VIP status as it was only me, Helen Farrell, and Marco Gemelli at the tasting.
We were introduced to their Vin Ruspo Barco Reale di Carmignano Rosato DOC, Barco Reale DOC, Carmignano DOCG, and Carmignano Riserva Grumarello DOCG.
Vin Ruspo Barco Reale di Carmignano Rosato DOC 2015
This rosé wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. They told us that it used to be redder in color but that with the change of oenologist recently the color of the rosé has changed. Now it is much brighter and has a more copper-like color because it apparently appeals to the consumer.
There is an anecdote behind the name Vin Ruspo, that stems from the word ‘ruspare‘ which means steal (rubare). In past times, the farmers working in the estate during harvest time seem to have had the habit of ‘stealing’ a bit of the juice resulting from the freshly pressed grapes. They secretly detracted this juice from the tinelle, i.e. the wood recipients, that they transported to the estate. Then they used the ‘stolen’ juice to make wine at home. It was a habit that the estate owners were very well aware of and overlooked. This juice had a very bright color and thereof the name of the Carmignano rosé wine.
Returning to the characteristics of the Vin Ruspo, it is a fresh and mineral wine with notes of fruit such as peach and pomegranate in the beginning. After a while, the more floral notes come out.
The sommelier at Villa Artimino @artimino who is also an oenologist, is here pouring me some Barco Reale Doc 2015. Barco Reale is produced within the #Carmignano denomination. It is a blend of #Sangiovese, #CabernetSauvignon, and #Merlot. ————————— It has notes of mature fruit, spices, the green undertones of the Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. After a while in the glass, you also feel the more floreal aromas. —————————- Carmignano is the smallest DOCG in Italy, did you know that? Stay tuned for more about the wines on my blog. @helencfarrell @marco.gemelli … #grapevineadventures
Barco Reale DOC 2015
This wine is also a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The grapes are fermented separately and then they are mixed together for the maturation. Generally, the blend is 50% Sangiovese and the other part is a mix between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is matured in steel vats for 4 months after fermentation and is then laid down in the bottle for 3 months.
It has notes of fruit, spices, and you feel the violet of the Sangiovese as well as the more green undertones of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though it is a young wine it is quite complex, structured, and with a certain body. It is a smooth and very enjoyable red wine.
Carmignano DOCG 2014
This is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot. After the fermentation, it matures for about one year in French oak barrels. Thereafter, it lays 6 months in the bottle. 2014 was a difficult year in Tuscany and in Italy due to the heavy rain pouring down during most of the summer. As a result, you can indeed perceive a sort of wet or soaked undertone in the wine.
Talking about the aromas, the fruit but also the floral notes, that feel almost a bit like rose appassite, are present. In this wine, you feel the presence of the Cabernet Sauvignon very clearly, even though the Sangiovese is the dominating grape variety here. It is a complex wine with elegant tannins where you also sense the oaky touch.
Carmignano Riserva Grumarello DOCG 2011
The grape varieties used in this wine are Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. This is a full-bodied and yet smooth wine where you feel that it has been matured for two years in large French oak barrels followed by one year in the bottle. The darker fruity notes combined with the peppery tones of the Syrah are recognizable in this wine. Overall, apart from the fruit and the spices you also feel the tobacco, leather, and a touch of the forest and the wild. The tannins are smooth and it is very enjoyable and persistent as a wine.
After this amazing wine tasting with our private sommelier and oenologist (I think she is an oenologist too), we headed to the other room for a dinner on Valentine’s Day. We were in very good company, me and Helen Farrell, with the owner, Annabella Pascale, and some other fantastic people from Tenuta di Artimino.
The menu started off with tortello di cavolo nero and pecorino toscano DOP e rigatino croccante, to then continue with filettino di ghiandaiolo toscano al ristretto degli aromi del Chianti and purea di sedano rapa with spinacini con pinoli e uvetta. This was paired with their white wine Artumes Bianco Toscana IGT which is made with the grapes Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Summing up a lesson in Carmignano history and wine
The visit to Tenuta di Artimino some month ago was a fun evening where we explored the history and wines of Carmignano. This was not the first time I had the wines from Tenuta di Artimino, but it was actually the first time that I visited the villa and their restaurant. It was made all the more fun and interesting by having the opportunity to meet Annabella herself and other people that work at the estate. This is another example of how you can get a full immersion in history by going to a wine tasting or visiting a winery. The wines of Carmignano DOCG, the smallest wine denomination in Italy, are indeed very fascinating. The presence of Cabernet Sauvignon in Carmignano since the days of Caterina de’ Medici, making it more or less into a native grape variety, is an important factor for these wines.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this article about Tenuta di Artimino and the Carmignano wines. Feel free to comment below and tell us what you think of the Carmignano DOCG wines from Tenuta di Artimino!