From one of the oldest appellations in the world, this is a brilliant, classic and delicious red that will leave you flabbergasted as to how you have missed it thus far. It will also win you friends and give you prominence as a person of knowledge and import - it is a genuine addition to any wine-lover's arsenal.
Created in 1713 by Cosimo di Medici the third, the appellation of Carmignano sits to the north of the hill of Montalbano, between Empoli and Florence. It's absolute heaven. Away from the tourists and many of the money-chasing investors who only chased Chianti producing sites, Carmignano is a wonderful zone and a truly brilliant style of wine. By its own law, it became the blueprint for most Supertuscans some three hundred and fifty years later! That is its recipe: 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. If only the Supertuscan producers had thought a little harder... well, it's a moot point because Carmignano is a small enough area and the it's quite possible that though respected as a style, internationally-minded producers in the 1660s and 70s wanted their own land to produce their version of the style. And that is, eventually the way that the story panned out. But the beginning is Carmignano!
Based on the slopes of a north-facing hill, the appellation is made up of a series of smaller slopes that face south, forming a sequence of mini hills as they do so, right the way down to the village of Carmignano (there's a train station there), which is where the wineries are based. The ridges of hills look like the back of a dinosaur as they go up and down, descending from about 400 metres above sea level to about 50 metres, which provides the possibility to retain freshness in the grapes.
So, it's really a fascinating subzone of Tuscany that I really love.
This is one of the most successful and important producers in the region. My friends in the neighbouring estate, Dario and Enrico, will point out that they regularly perform better in competitions than Capezzana, but the success of the regoin in recent years is down to the amazing Capezzana spade work and at a time when nobody even took Chianti seriously, they continued to turn out excellent and balanced wines.
This is not Carmignano, but Barco Reale di Carmignano, which is made from younger vines. At least, that's the intention. The appellation of Barco Reale was invented to create wines in the style of Rosso di Montalcino, or Rosso di Montepulciano and so forth, allowing producers to have another channel for sales and to use the full extent of their vineyards without damaging the quality of the flagship wine. And that's what's happening here. This is really delicious wine and full of black fruit and red cherries all tied up with a lick of oak and set against a firm yet fresh acidic backbone. The screwcap... is a little degrading perhaps, but there is a sense of mischief when you open it up and thinking slightly less of it than you should, it over-delivers and then some!
The name "Barco Reale" is also historic, because it means "Royal Wall", which is what Cosimo di Medici had to construct (not personally, one imagines) around the vines of Carmignano, to stop thieves and to stop people who were not inside the wall from saying that they made Carmignano. It was the first appellation!
Really, this is a piece of Italian, and wine, history that I hope you love as much as we do.
Grape(s): Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon
Style: Svelte, Smooth, Silky, Perfumed, Medium Bodied, Elegant, Complex, Balanced
Best food matches: Venison, Steak, Roasts, Red Meats, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Game, Fine Dining, Duck