Carmignano is a small and historic appellation located forty minutes northwest of Florence. Winemaking in the region dates back to the pre-Roman era, about 3000 years ago, as evidenced by the wine jars and tasting cups found in Etruscan tombs. It is a region that has been making Super Tuscans long before they were fashionable. Colline San Biagio is a family-owned winery in Carmignano making quality wines since the 16th century.
History Of Carmignano
Modern winemaking history in Carmignano dates back to the fourteenth century. The wines were highly sought after and were recognized by Cosimo III de’ Medici, The Grand Duke of Tuscany. He designated Carmignano as a superior wine-producing area of Tuscany in 1716. By creating a “bando” a closed territory of Carmignano he created the first DOC in the world, 100 years before France.
In 1932 Carmignano was included as part of the Chianti wine-making region, and in 1967 they obtained Denomination of Controlled Origin as Chianti in the Montalbano sub-area. Subsequently, Carmignano became its own DOC in 1975. In 1990 Carmignano was elevated to DOCG status. The region is small with only 117 hectares and fewer than 30,000 cases produced, making this area truly special and unique. Its size is what makes Carmignano a hidden gem. Its noble history combined with exceptional terroir, and high-quality standards make Carmignano wines one of the best in Tuscany.
Carmignano stands apart from the rest of Tuscany with its unique and rich history with international grape varieties. Sangiovese has always been grown in the region, but international grape varieties have thrived since the 1500s when Catherine de’ Medici brought over these grape varieties from France. The wines of Carmignano are Sangiovese-based wines with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A point to note is that Carmignano has been making “Super Tuscans” long before the term was even iconized.
Colline San Biagio
Colline San Biagio is located in the hamlet of Bacchereto. Since 1578 the family has lived and worked on this land of Carmignano with dedication and respect to nature. The area is highly renowned as this is where Leonardo da Vinci grew up, a few meters from their farm. In fact, Leonardo wrote about the production of wine on this land. One of Colline San Biagio’s wine is dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci, Vigna Toia. It is produced from the same vineyards where Leonardo’s family made wine. You can smell the history in the wine.
The vineyards are located on the slopes of Montalbano at 200 to 280 meters above sea level with soils that are comprised of Alberese marly limestone and rich shale of galestro and sandstone. The elegance of the wines is derived from their unique terroir. Montalbano is protected from cold currents thanks to its altitude and exposure. The vineyards benefit from bright sun, cool breezes and a prominent diurnal range between day and night. These are ideal conditions for grape ripening. It is here that Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Trebbiano and Mavasia thrive together in harmony.
I recently had the opportunity to taste the incredible wines of Colline San Biagio with owner Gabriele Pocaterra, representing the third generation of the family. Gabriele spoke of the incredible property and its historical significance. Their unique land encompasses centuries-old vines where they produce olive oil, grappa and wines. Below you will find notes and details on the remarkable wines from the unique terroir of Colline San Biagio.
Tasting The Wines Of Colline San Biagio
Colline San Biagio Bale Rosé 2019
It is not typical in Tuscany to produce rosé wine. Gabriele says the family wanted to create something very special with this rosé. The wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Sangiovese. The grapes are softly pressed, then fermented in tanks and finally, the wine spends a few months in the bottle. This process gives the wine a beautiful pink hue. The alcohol is higher than most rosés at 14%, but it is well balanced with bright fruit and acidity. This is a serious rose that is great with food. This is not your porch pounder rosé but a wine that can be paired with food. Gabriele recommends pairing the Bale rosé with salmon, cheese, pizza, and pasta with figs.
Colline San Biagio Vigna Toia 2018
The Vigna Toia is dedicated to Leorando da Vinci. On the label is Da Vinci’s painting of Arno Valley. It is produced on the Toia estate owned by the Da Vinici family, where Leonardo spent his childhood.
This is the perfect wine to get acquainted with Carmignano wines. It is produced from equal parts Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. There are nice elegant aromas on the nose with notes of blackberries, cherries, spice and tobacco. The wine is fresh, round, supple and very approachable. I especially enjoyed the wine for its nice bold structure that ends with a wonderfully long and fruity finish.
Colline San Biagio Donna Mingarda 2017
Donna Mingarda is the first 100% Sangiovese made in Carmignano. It represents the pure expressive power of the Sangiovese grape. The wine is dedicated to Donna Minagarda who was the ancient owner of the hamlet of San Biago along with the small farmhouse and chapel on the property.
This Sangiovese is very elegant and well-balanced, representing the characteristics of Sangiovese from Carmignano. It has an intense ruby red color with aromas of raspberries, violet and spice. On the palate the wine is elegant, smooth and savory, Notes of red cherries, tobacco and tea coat the palate. This is a beautifully harmonious wine with firm tannins, great structure and a long lingering finish.
Colline San Biagio Carmignano Sancti BlasII 2015
With a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cab Sauv and 10% Merlot, the wine is a story of the region and the Medici family bringing international varieties to the area. In this wine you find balance and unity of all three grapes varieties, delivering a wine with power and finesse.
Sancti BlasII is a Bordeaux-esque in style with notes of citrus, black currants, cherry, cedar, tobacco and spice. The wine is rich and concentrated with great balance and length. A wine that is sophisticated and stylish.
Colline San Biagio Quattordicisei Merlot 2015
Quattordicisei is made from 100% Merlot with a careful selection of the best and purest Merlot. San Biagio has a particular microclimate where Merlot thrives. It is a unique Merlot, unlike Merlot from parts of Italy with its high concentration. Gabriele says this is a wine that “shocks you” with its boldness and concentration.
With it a gorgeous bottle and unique label, the wine speaks to the experience of Merlot. This is a wine with a lot of personality. On the nose, there are bright aromas of black cherries, plum, currant, olives, and spice. Dense and concentrated on the palate it is gracefully balanced. The wine caresses the palate with its rich supple fruit and minerality. The quality of the tannins is remarkable, leaving you with a long and memorable finish.