The wines of Carmignano: wines “worthy of Jupiter” (Francesco Redi, 1626-1697, medical doctor, naturalist and scholar)

The 2012 vintage
The winter was cold without rain and with very little snow. It was very rainy in April, May and June. This made up for the drought during the winter. The summer was extremely hot, in August the temperature sometimes reached 40 degrees Celsius. There were rains at the end of August which helped the vines to complete their ripening. The vines luckily had a good supply of water so that they did not suffer during the extremely hot summer, except for some small plots of vineyard standing on sandstone soil. The terroir of Carmignano, in vintages such as 2012 and 2011, showed a great “balancing” capacity. In 2012 the grapes reached an excellent phenolic ripening, producing wines with a good alcoholic strength, well balanced with the acidity, with an intense aroma and colour and with harmonic and evident tannins.

Carmignano DOCG Santa Cristina in Pilli 2012
The blend is 75% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet, 10% Canaiolo nero, 5% other approved red berry varieties. This is the classical wine of Fattoria Ambra as it was also the first wine that was released (the first vintage was 1983).
This wine is made from the older vines of the Santa Cristina in Pilli cru. The vineyards stand on a hill and they surround the homonymous church. The altitude is 80-100 meters above sea level. The composition of the soil is limestone (“alberese”).
The clusters were carefully selected in the vineyards at harvest, destemmed and the berries were further selected on the vibrating sorting table before being crushed softly. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation and maceration with the skins for 10-15 days in steel vats with temperature control. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation in concrete tanks. The wine then matured 50% in large Slavonian oak casks (25 hectolitre capacity) and 50% in French oak tonneaux (3.5 - 5 hectolitre capacity and of second and third use) for about 12 months. Finishing in the bottle for three months.
The colour is a bright ruby red, the nose is intense, complex, fine, fruity, red fruit, plum, cherry, slight balsamic herb note, slight spicy and mineral notes. In the mouth it is dry, quite warm and supple, with a good acidity and evident and silky tannins, flavourful, full in the mouth, intense and persistent.
Suggested food matches: this is a very versatile wine, it is suitable for the whole meal. It is excellent with meat stews, pasta and rice dishes with meat sauce, medium seasoned cheese.
Average production/year: 22,000 bottles

The 2011 vintage
The winter was cold with snow. The weather was very warm during the spring and this made the vegetative cycle of the vines start earlier and made all the vegetative phases early. There was regular rainfall till June and the temperature was lower than average. It was quite cool during the night till mid August. Then the temperature was very high for 10 days from the 16th till the 26th of August after which the temperature decreased a little, but it remained high throughout the month of September. The harvest was earlier for all grape varieties, but, as the vegetative cycle of the vines started 15 days early,  the length of the vegetative cycle remained the same as in other vintages. The grapes, especially the ones of the indigenous varieties – i.e. Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero, Trebbiano – were beautiful with a few dried clusters that were taken out during cluster selection. Grape yield was good. 2011 in Carmignano can be considered an excellent vintage.

Carmignano Riserva DOCG Montalbiolo 2011
The blend is 70% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo Nero and 10% Cabernet. 1985 was the first released vintage.
The extension of the Montalbiolo vineyard is 1 hectare. It is the highest vineyard of the estate, the altitude being approximately 200 hectares above sea level. The exposure is east. The composition of the soil is sandstone and “galestro”(clayey schists). The grapes of this vineyard are the ones that ripen the latest after of the ones of the Elzana cru. The vines were planted in 1972.
Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation and maceration with the skins for 10-15 days in steel vats with temperature control. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation in glazed concrete tanks. Maturation for 12 months in French oak tonneaux (3.5 and 5 hectolitres - 20% new), followed by 12 months in Slavonian oak casks (25 hectolitre capacity). Finishing in the bottle for three months.
The colour is an intense ruby red. The nose is intense, complex and elegant, small red fruit, cherry and hard black cherry, violets, slight liquorice and leather notes, mineral, slight mint notes appear after a while. In the mouth it is dry, quite supple, good acidity, tightly knit and silky tannins, sapid, well balanced, intense, persistent, elegant, full in the mouth.  
Suggested food matches: grilled red meat, “bistecca alla Fiorentina”, game, seasoned cheese.
Average production/year: 3,500 bottles.

The 2007 vintage
This vintage was one of the earliest ever. This was mainly due to the very early budding phase. The average temperature during May-September was in line with later vintages such as 2004. The second half of August was rainy and this, although it made the grapes ripen even earlier, made it possible for the grapes to maintain an excellent acidity and reach a good phenolic ripening.

Vin Santo di Carmignano DOC 2007
The blend is 90% Trebbiano and 10% San Colombano. San Colombano is a table grape, but in Carmignano it is used in the blend of Vin Santo. The first released vintage was 1999.
There are various interpretations concerning the origin of the name “Vin Santo”: one is that the name originates from “vino di Xantos” (name of a sweet wine made on the Greek Island of Santorini), and others are that the name originates from the fact that it was served during mass and at Christmas (“vin santo” means “holy wine”). It is a traditional Tuscan wine and in Carmignano this wine is particularly appreciated due to the local production of the famous “cantucci di Prato”, delicious hard almond biscuits that are dipped into this wine.
The grapes are picked early and carefully selected in the vineyards, in fact in Carmignano “fare gli scelti” means “to choose the grapes” to make Vin Santo.  The clusters are hung one by one and left to dry till January following the harvest in a drying room under the roof of the building where the cellar is. The drying process is aided by the use of fans. The clusters are pressed with a traditional vertical press. The must is then racked into small Slavonian oak casks of a capacity of 50-100 litres ("caratelli"), the "caratelli" are sealed with wax and the wine is left to mature for 6 years.
Suggested food matches: apart from the traditional pairing with “cantucci di Prato”, hard almond biscuits, this particular Vin Santo is excellent with blue cheese, seasoned Parmesan cheese, other types of seasoned cheese and with “foie gras”. It is also excellent on its own at the end of a meal.
The colour is amber yellow. The nose is very intense, ample, fine, honey, dried apricots, dried figs, spices, saffron, mineral. In the mouth it is sweet, warm, supple, sapid, well balanced, very intense and very persistent, long finish, the honey and dried fruit notes return in the aftertaste.
Average production/year: 1,300 half-bottles (0,375 litres).