Capezzana and Carmignano endure the test of time
“I’m not letting anyone take these two glasses,” Diane emphatically stated to the assembled group. Later on, Manos admonished the server, “Don’t you dare touch that glass…” The shortage of stemware and overly eager servers only underscored everyone’s infatuation with the Capezzana wines in general and their unwillingness to give up even one last drop of their favorites. So, just what was so beguiling in our glasses?
Thanks to the generosity and hospitality of Countess Beatrice Contini Bonacossi (or Bea, as we were instructed to call her), the journalists enjoyed a vertical of the Villa di Capezzana from the Carmignano denomination, along with several other Capezzana wines.
Situated northwest of Florence, the Capezzana estate’s winemaking history can be traced as far back as a document dated 804 in which it is described as a farm with wine and olives, existing much as it does presently. It was during the 1920s that Bea’s great grandparents bought the property and today, the family continues to run the estate, which now also features a culinary school and wine bar. However, the mainstay of the property continues to be wine, with a foremost focus on Carmignano, which itself can be traced back to the 13th century. Official protection was granted by Cosimo III de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1716 .
Initially established as a DOC in 1975, Carmignano was promoted to DOCG status in 1990, retroactive to the 1988 vintage. While less known than its Tuscan neighbors of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano is also a Sangiovese-based wine, although it is unusual in that Cabernet Sauvignon has always been an important component of the wine. This harmonic blend of the indigenous Sangiovese with the Uva Francesca (the “French grape”) is attributed to Catherine di Medici who sent the Cabernet to her home town of Carmignano upon her marriage to the King of France in 1533. Today, denomination laws require a minimum of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon to a maximum of 20% permitted, with at least 50% of the blend comprised of Sangiovese.
The vertical tasting included wines from 2008, 1998, 1988, 1977 and 1968. The youngest wine was the year that Bea’s sister, Benedetta, took over as winemaker for the estate, while the 1998 was the first vintage in which the wine was produced without Canaiolo and 1988 marked the first vintage in which the wine had DOCG status. The 1977 was selected in place of the lesser quality 1978 vintage, but, thankfully, 1968 saw an excellent harvest.
After tasting through the full line up of Villa di Capezzana, the overall consensus was that the 1988 seemed older than its age, but was still appreciated. However, the real surprise was that the 1977 and 1968 both displayed more freshness than the 1988 and were quite coveted. Hence, Diane’s remarks mentioned above. Regardless of people’s individual favorites, the message was emphatically clear – Carmignano is an age-worthy wine, showing beautiful complexity and development with time.
Beyond the Villa di Capezzana, other standouts included the Trefiano 2007 (also a Carmignano DOCG wine, but from a separate property), Ghiale della Furba 2007 (a Super-Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah) and the Vin Santo Riserva DOCG 2006. It was this latter glass that Manos refused to part with and of which Benedetta refers to as her fourth child, given the amount of attention it requires. With its caramel, honey, nutty and spice notes, coupled with excellent acidity, it was the perfect ending to a fabulous tasting, at which point we finally ceded our stemware to the waitstaff.