Friday, June 17, 2011

Cianci Baldazzi: Fine Carmignano

Villa il Poggiolo is one of Carmignano's historic estates: the Cianci Baldazzi family purchased the property in the mid-1800s and was already presenting its wines at the international expositions before the Great War, when few other Italian winemakers were thinking about much more than quantity.

They have about 20 hectares under vine, and are also replanting more, while the winemaking is (quite ably) handled by Francesca Noaro, who kindly brought me samples of Barco Reale, the Carmignano area's youn gready-to-drink wine (the equivalent of Chianti d'Annata or a Rosso di Montalcino) and Carmignano, which is a considerably more serious and refined wine.

Before we get to the wines, a couple more words on Carmignano. It's one of Italy's smallest appellations, about 135 hectares in all, and also one of the oldest: in 1716 Grand Duke Cosimo III De'Medici issued an edict establishing the boundaries and production methods for what he considered to be the four best wine producing areas in Tuscany, one of which was Carmignano; it stands out as the most distinctive of the four because it had Cabernet, locally known as uva franciosa, which is said to have been introduced by Caterina De'Medici, who was also Queen of France.

In the centuries following Cosimo's edict commentators often remarked on the quality of Carmignano's wine, but the region was simply too small to attract the attention of a broad audience, and therefore sank into obscurity, to the point that when the boundaries of the Chianti Montalbano area were set in the 1930s they included all of the old Carmignano zone. This didn't sit well with those whose vineyards were in what Cosimo had defined as Carmignano, and in the late 1960s they began to push for the recognition of Carmignano, establishing the Congregazione (a Consorzio, in 1971) and lobbying hard to overcome the resistance of the Chianti Montalbano producers.

The new Carmignano DOC arrived in 1975, with a provision that allowed producers to relabel their wines from the 1969 vintage on as Carmignano, while DOCG status, retroactive to 1988, came in 1990. With respect to Chianti, Carmignano differs in that it has always contained a percentage of Cabernet (Either Franc or Sauvignon or both) in addition to the standard Tuscan varietals.

Having said all this, Villa Il Poggiolo's Wines:

Cianchi Baldazzi Villa Il Poggiolo Barco Reale DOC 2008
Lot 07511
Lively cherry ruby with almandine reflections. The bouquet is fresh, with fairly rich slightly brambly cherry fruit with some graphite shavings and pleasant violets that confer a pleasing freshness. On the palate it's bright and brambly, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit that has some greenish vegetal accents and is supported by greenish vegetal laced tannins that flow into a bright rather sour berry fruit finish with distinct bitter underpinnings. It's fresh, and young, and will drink quite well with hearty meat-based pasta dishes -- penne with sugo alla Bolognese come to mind -- and also with grilled meats or light roasts, and will also age nicely for 3-5 years.
2 stars

Cianchi Baldazzi Villa Il Poggiolo Carmignano DOCG 2008
Lot 32310
Deep cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich cherry fruit supported by some jammy accents, sea salt, and slight bell pepper notes, with some alcohol and slight graphite shavings. Elegant, fresh, and deft. On the palate it's bright, with rich vegetal laced berry fruit supported by moderate acidity and smooth sweet tannins that have a slight cedar underpinning -- new large wood -- and flow into a clean savory sour cherry finish with some graphite bitterness and vegetal accents. It's a distinct step up from the Barco Reale, displaying considerably greater finesse and a graceful willowy strength; it will work nicely with grilled meats or roasts, and also will age nicely for 5-8 years at least.

For more information, Visit Villa il Poggiolo's Site

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