Piaggia-mauro vannucci, "il sasso" carmignano docg 2020 (about $35)

Italian Wine for february, 2024

Carmignano is an ancient wine producing area centered around the village of Carmignano that lies about 10 miles west of Florence. The Carmignano viticultural area is one of smallest appellations in Tuscany and output is subsequently small.

Although Carmignano wines have a royal pedigree that dates back to the early 1700's it is fair to say that it probably is one of the least recognized wine names and DOCG-certified appellations in Tuscany and probably Italy in general. While generally held in high regard by in-the-know wine geeks, these well-made and enjoyable wines are generally not on the radar screens of every-day wine buyers. Here's hoping that that will soon change for the better.

Carmignano wines are dry, robust, Sangiovese-based red wines. In the early 1800's Carmignano producers initiated a policy of blending Bordeaux-style varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or Merlot, with Sangiovese, in effect presaging a style of wine that would in the late 20th century become known as "Super-Tuscan".

Today, the DOCG regulations for Carmignano specify that Sangiovese grapes must comprise at least 50 percent of the total blend with a mandatory addition of 10 to 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc and potential splash amounts of a few other grape varieties. It is the mandatory dose of the non-traditional Cabernet and other varieties that differentiates Carmignano wines from Chianti and most other Sangiovese-based Tuscan wines.

Mauro Vannucci purchased his first vineyard property, a small plot of approximately 6 acres, in 1990. Additional parcels were acquired over time and today the Piaggia estate has approximately 38 acres under vine. Within this relatively short period Mauro Vannucci has solidly established himself as one of the premier producers in the Carmignano DOCG appellation, producing wines of quality and distinction.

2020 "Il Sasso" Carmignano from the Piaggia winery in northern TuscanyPiaggia's 2020 "Il Sasso" Carmignano is a blend of 70 percent old vine Sangiovese, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 10 percent Merlot. Elsewhere in Tuscany this wine could be referred to as a "Super-Tuscan" but here it is a Carmignano DOCG wine.

The grapes are fermented with natural yeasts in small tanks where the wine abides on the skins for about 3 weeks. The wine is then transferred to 2nd and 3rd passage French oak barriques where it ages for 15 months, then is bottled unfiltered where it spends an additional 6 months prior to release. The wine checks in with 14.5 percent alcohol.

The 2010 "Il Sasso" has an intense, thick ruby-red color and a gentle swishing of the glass reveals complex aromas of ripe dark fruit with some oak-infused notes of cinnamon and clove. It is full-bodied with plump black cherry and plum flavors. Pitch-perfect acidity and a full, dense mouthfeel with ripe tannins coalesce to impart complexity and structure to the wine. Some dark fruit and almost-sweet spice notes give lift to the long and persistent finish.

This is a pleasurable and substantial wine with a relatively modest price tag that is hard to beat on a quality-to-price basis.


©Richard Marcis
February 11, 2024

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