Villa Il Poggiolo, Carmignano, Tuscany (26/9/2011)

The town of Carmignano lies to the north-west of Firenze (Florence) and is actually in the Chianti Moltalbano region.  However, the grape growers here decided to relinquish their entitlement to make Chianti and instead obtained their own DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) of Carmignano.  Inevitably, the rules for Carmignano are different (hey! This is Italy after all) and require a minimum of 60% and a maximum of 90% Sangiovese in the wines which must also contain some Cabernet Sauvignon; someone obviously twigged to the need to beef up the more northerly grown Sangiovese with a bit of something else that I mentioned in the last article.
The spectacular view from Villa Il Poggiolo
Villa Il Poggiolo is on the top of a hill on the edge of the town of Carmignano.  Access is via a steep winding road with plenty of hairpins and not for the faint-hearted.  In the distance Florence is visible and the views all round are spectacular.  Here they make a white wine, a rose, 4 reds and a Vin Santo.  The reds are Rosso dei Colli Della Toscana Centrale (catchy name eh?) Barco Reale (a DO for younger or declassified Carmignano) a Carmignano and a Carmignano Riserva.  Villa Il Poggiolo have about 20 hectares of vines and make about 100,000 bottles of wine each year.  Their oldest vines are 40 years old and all the grapes have to be hand-picked because the grape varieties are mixed plantings throughout the vineyards and all ripen at different times.  Il Poggiolo wines are aged in old large oak casks which have a gentle toasting.  They do not use new oak barriques, believing them to be too aggressive for their wines.
Old casks at Villa Il Poggiolo
We tasted the following wines in the winery:  The 2010 Carmignano is 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and is very fresh and fruity with youthful tannins.  It has notes of concentrated chocolate and cherry and,with still 9 months to go in cask, will fill out and soften.  The 2009 has 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Canaiolo and is gamey, rich and shows more oak; full, grippy,warming.  The 2008 Carmignano Riserva  is really quite big and grippy with rich fruitcake notes and hints of cherry.  A super wine already but will get better still.  There was a tremendous depth and concentration to these wines.
Over what was described as a “light lunch” (of local breads; proscuitto; chicken liver pate; cold dressed tripe; cured pigs cheeks on bruschetta with honey and rosemary; a salad of lamb’s lettuce, pine nuts, mint and anchovies; pumpkin risotto; pasta with beef shreds; rare roast rib of beef followed by a dessert made from the recently harvested grapes) we tasted the white, the rose and a couple of reds and then finished with the Vin Santo. 
The end of our "light lunch".
Just in time for our evening flight back....
Despite the obvious distraction on the table I managed to scribble a few notes which reveal the white – the 2010 Lacrima di Cantine Bianco – to be a 50/50 mix of Vermentino and Trebbiano which is unoaked, clean, fresh and herbaceous with good fresh fruit and zippy acidity.  It was perhaps a little short on the finish but otherwise sound enough.  The 2010 Rosato – a mix of Sangiovese and Canaiolo which varies depending on the vintage – is really quite dark for a rose with orange hints on the rim.  The nose is of pure strawberries leading to savoury notes in the mouth.  Wholesome stuff but perhaps a bit pricey in the light of the competition on our shelves back home.  The 2008 Barco Reale is 70% Sangiovese and 15% each Canaiolo and Cab.Sauv. all of which spend 6 months in cask and then 6 months in steel tank.  It’s round, savoury and has gentle leathery notes.  My notes record that I was relatively unmoved by this though.  The 2008 Carmignano is 70% Sangiovese with 20% Cab.Sauv. and 10% Canaiolo which is soft, fruity and easy on the palate.  It does look a bit on the expensive side though at the best part of £20 retail in the UK.  Though not currently available in the UK, the wines of Villa Il Poggiolo may become so if some work can be done on the prices.
We finished with the 2001 Vin Santo which is 80% Trebbiano and 10% Malvasia with the remaining 10% a mix of San Colombaro, Canaiolo Bianco and Vermentino.  A great wine to sign off with, this has notes of dried fig with a hint of liquorice and dried orange peel.  Again there is the almost sherry-like nuttiness on the nose as well.  In the mouth this is roundly sweet and rich with fresh sultana and citrus flavours with super cleansing acidity and a long finish.
Please do not hesitate to ask about the availability of any of the wines featured in this series of blogs from Tuscany.  Not all make it as far as the UK, none are cheap, but many are great value for what they are given the level of care and attention that goes into making them and the experiences they bring.  Almost all need food but they provide a perfect illustration of the spiritual heart of Italy as far as wine is concerned.  You will not be disappointed!

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