In Carmignano wine has an ancient history. Carmignano Docg is one of the least known of the great Tuscan red wines. Yet it has an ancient history that few denominations in the world can boast, with fascinating anecdotes. There are many famous people who have praised it over the centuries. In the panorama of great Tuscan denominations, Carmignano is today a wine waiting to be discovered. However, in the past it enjoyed periods of great acclaim and was highly praised by nobles, scholars and illustrious personalities.
We could say that the history of Carmignano Docg wine begins with the Etruscans, who already produced wine in these areas millennia ago. The discovery of wine vessels inside some Etruscan tombs and the assignment by Caesar to his veterans, between 50 and 60 BC, of certain lands between the Arno and the Ombrone rivers for farming are a testimony to this.
One of the first documents on the wine production of these hills dates to 804 A.D. It was the time of the reign of Charlemagne and his son Pippin. A parchment dating from this period, written in Latin, reads that the church of San Pietro a Seano granted some land in use with a system of dividing the harvest that can be considered an early form of sharecropping.
Carmignano from 1300 to 1600
In the 1400s, famous merchant Francesco Datini placed fifteen sizable orders of Carmignano wine for his famous wine cellar in Prato through the Carmelence notary and friend Ser Lapo Mazzei. Datini willingly paid “a florin seal” for the orders, much more than the going price for the most prestigious wines of the time. Again in the 14th century, the chronicler Domenico Bartoloni spoke “of the wines of Carmignano and d’Artimino which are excellent”. Three centuries later, in his famous epic poem Bacchus in Tuscany (1685), Francesco Redi praised the product of the Montalbano vines.
“When I take in my hand
A cup of brilliant Carmignano
So gratified do I feel inside,
That neither ambrosia nor nectar do I envy from Jupiter.
Take this liquid, pressed from the brown grapes
Of very stony Tuscan vineyards,
Drink, Ariana, and keep away from it
The watery blue tresses of the Naiads:
For it would be great folly,
And ugly sin,
To drink a Carmignano watered-down within”.
The poet makes it clear that while French wines such as the Claretto di Avignone may be good, and Chianti has nothing to complain about, the wine of Artimino and Carmignano are in a class by themselves.
Carmignano Wine And the Medici
This famous wine, long-aging and perfect for roasts and wild game, had historically made a great name for itself, so much so that in 1716 the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici first issued a decree and then an edict with which he established precise and strict rules for the harvest and Specified the production area. His edict “Concerning the Declaration of the borders of the four regions of Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Valdarno Superiore” defined the production boundaries of this wine and dictated certain commercial standards, in order to protect it from counterfeiting or bad storage. We must also not forget the history of Cabernet, which is attributed to Caterina de’Medici: it is said that it was she, queen of France, who brought this grape variety to the Carmignano area in the 16th century because she so appreciated its fine qualities. As a testament to this history, in the local area Cabernet is still called the “French grape”.
Carmignano Wine in the twentieth CENTURY
In the past century, the great poet and novelist Gabriele D’Annunzio offered memorable praise for Carmignano wines. He probably came to know the wine from these hills during his high school stay in Prato. The fact is that in his work “Le faville del maglio”[The sparks of the mallet] the name Carmignano occurs more than once and the author, through his youthful memories, also speaks to the sensory qualities of the wine.
He wrote:”My father tapped the barrel that smells of Violet, and this year he is happy with the Carmignano that he first matured in his vineyards in the Colli hills to ‘Tuscanize’ first his lands and then his eldest son”.
After a difficult period, in which Carmignano was incorporated into the denomination Chianti as its subzone, since the 1970s this wine has proudly reclaimed its own identity, first with the D.O.C. and then from 1990, the D.O.C.G.
It was finally clear that Chianti and Carmignano had to remain two distinct wines: history had made them part of the same family, but each one emerged for its own character and strong personality.