01 Apr Wine and Artimino, a millennial combination Two masterclasses at the IAT Awards
Considering the place that hosted the Italia a Tavola Prize, a focus on wine could not be missing, both with companies present for pairings with dishes, and with two masterclasses.
Organized by Ais Toscana , the two moments were coordinated by the very active regional delegate Massimo Rossi. We are talking about Artimino, a toponym that refers to wine and olive oil since the Etruscan era. Place inhabited since the Paleolithic, sacred for the Etruscans as evidenced by the excavations on site and the Museum housed in the ancient walls. From the entrance tower of its mediaeval crop, the magnificent Medici villa “La Ferdinanda” stands out along an austere cypress-lined avenue, built by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando I de ‘Medici and designed in 1596 by the court architect Bernardo Buontalenti.
The view opens onto the hills and vineyards of Montalbano, in that Barco Reale, 4 thousand hectares fenced, at the time, by a two-meter high wall, in order to retain the game in what was the private hunting reserve of the Medici family .
Here, for over three centuries, one of the historic Tuscan denominations was born, Carmignano, one of the four “suited” and protected areas (together with the classic Chianti, the Valdarno di sopra and the Pomino), from the announcement of 1716 by Cosimo III de ‘Medici, first delineation in the world of denomination of origin and disciplinary of wine production, almost a century and a half before the well-known Bordeaux classification of Napoleon III and a few decades before that of the Port area by the Marquis do Pombal.
In its 732 hectares the Tenuta di Artimino , now owned by the company headed by the Olmo family with the dynamic Annabella Pascale in the role of ad, has over 17 thousand olive trees and 80 hectares of vines that give rise to about 500 thousand bottles a year , subdivided into the typical denominations of the place, some of which have been the subject of one of the two Ais masterclasses.
Three references taken into consideration, definitely the most representative, are the Poggilarca Carmignano docg, the Grumarello Carmignano Riserva docg and the rare Vin Santo di Carmignano docg, Occhio di Pernice.
Introduced by the greeting of Annabella Pascale and by the illustration of the recent communicative restyling of the wines of the estate (with the new graphic of the label that shows the year of foundation, 1596, in fact) by the prepared communication manager, the colleague Claudia Cataldo , the word has passed to the glasses, analyzed by the young and talented Pistoian sommelier Valentino Tesi, Italian vice-champion Ais in office, as well as recent winner of the first Master of Chianti Classico.
Of the Poggilarca Camignano docg two vintages were analyzed, 2015 and 2016, both the result of the new company course entrusted to the oenologist Filippo Paoletti (nicknamed “mister Sangiovese” for his passion for the grape variety symbol of Tuscan viticulture), which took the reins of the cellar just with the 2015 vintage.
Poggilarca is a Carmignano made with 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Refines 10 months for half in large barrels (Sangiovese) and for the other half (Cabernet and Merlot) in second passage barriques. Then another stop of 4 months in the bottle before being sold.
The 2016 vintage, an extraordinary year for the whole of Tuscany, presented itself with a compact ruby, with residual flashes of purple. On the nose the fragrance of red fruit (currant) and black fruit (plum, red plum) mixed with floral, hints of lavender. In the background the earthy and herbaceous vegetable of Cabernet Sauvignon to give it personality and elegance. Energetic tannin yet to be disposed of but well mixed alcohol. Leave it in the cellar a little longer (it’s worth it).
2015 had some light garnet hues to the color, but here the fruitiness refers to the ripe plum, the dried fruit while the floral ode to the dried violet, with an undergrowth herbaceous. Sangiovese gustatory freshness with tannin a little more silky than in 2016. Both to combine with important first courses seasoned with game sauce.
The Grumarello Carmignano Riserva docg was tasted in the difficult 2012 and in the definitely better year 2013. In this case the blend consists of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and 5% Syrah. It is aged 24 months in half in 30 and 50 hl Slavonian oak barrels (Sangiovese) and the other half (Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah) in second passage barriques. Follows further 12 months in bottle.
Jumping in 2014, which was a real disaster for Artimino, the Grumarello 2013, the result of a cold year, makes a compact garnet red vibrate in the glass with a clear cherry in alcohol on the nose, toasted with coffee, tobacco, rhubarb, and china. cardamom and a tenuous vegetable, with scents of Mediterranean scrub. Fruity, almost spicy tannin with a fine persistence with a savory, almost iodine, and final balsamic note.
In 2012, garnet red becomes full and the nose opens with aromas of syruped fruit, dry pot-pourri floral, eucalyptus and licorice. Darker as a tannic profile, which provides the necessary energy to guarantee it a good aging potential. Pairing with jugged hare or stewed wild boar.
Turning to Vin Santo, it should be noted that this is not the classic Vin Santo where Trebbiano and / or Malvasia make the lion’s share with 75%, but of the rare (in the case of Artimino just over 2 thousand bottles per year) Vin Santo di Carmignano “Occhio di Pernice”, where the specification provides at least 50% of Sangiovese (hence the color that gives its name to the type).
The grapes, picked by hand, are placed on vinsantaia cane mats and dried for about 4 months. After pressing, the must, together with the “mother” (the noble lees) rests in small oak casks of 50 liters, slightly drained to accentuate the oxidation process, for at least 4 years.
Also in this case there were two vintages tasted, the one currently on the market, the 2011 and almost twenty years and now limited by a few units, the 2000, to highlight the evolution of wine with the passing of the years.
The Vin Santo di Carmignano “Occhio di Pernice” by Artimino is a blend of 50% Sangiovese plus 10% each of these five varieties: Canaiolo, Aleatico, Trebbiano toscano, Malvasia bianca lungo, and San Colombano.
2011 at the glass shows a brilliant topaz color with aromas of walnut, toasted almonds, candied citrus fruits, strawberry tree honey and almond paste. Infinite persistence with sweetness that disappears after the attack and leaves room for the salinity of the sip. To pair with blue cheeses like gorgonzola or Stilton
The 2000s by the glass appears of a dark mahogany with ethereal notes that open to complex aromas of dates, dried figs, walnut husks, sultanas, carobs, marzipan, almond paste and chestnut honey. Structured and enveloping to the palate it holds together a balanced sweetness and an extraordinary acid vein. To sip in pure meditation, perhaps in front of a good book and a fireplace.
The other master class of AIS Toscana, curated by Massimo Castellati, focused on three ancient native Tuscan vines almost disappeared, rediscovered or tenaciously kept alive by the stubbornness of individual winemakers. Some authentic pieces of rural memory with evocative names such as Barsaglina, Pugnitello and Foglia tonda. Before going on to the tasting notes it is worth drawing a brief identikit of these illustrious ancestors.
The Barsaglina (also known as Massaretta) is found only in the province of Massa Carrara, although it is allowed in cultivation throughout Tuscany. It is mentioned for the first time in 1877, in the famous essay dedicated to the Italian ampelography of the illustrious Piedmontese scholar, Count Giuseppe Di Rovasenda of the Counts of Melle.
A small berry that tends to the oval with a dark blue / purplish skin color, is currently cultivated in a few tens of hectares but with a tendency to increase. It is part of the Doc Candia dei Colli Apuani and the experiments of some small producers, confirm the marked taste-olfactory typicality that, paradoxically, is the same reason that led to its abandonment by the winemakers.
Pugnitello is probably a vine native of the Grosseto area, with few historical traces attested. the name seems to be due to the shape of the bunch, which resembles that of a small fist closed hand. A vine with a black berry, with a rounded berry and a very pruinose, midnight blue skin. It has some morphological resemblance to the Montepulciano grape variety but the shape of the bunch is different. It is not used, at least clearly, in any PDO but in some IGTs such as the Tuscan coast and Montecastelli.
From Pugnitello you get a wine with a very intense ruby red color with violet hues. The nose is slightly herbaceous while the palate reveals a full taste, high alcohol content, good acidity and high finesse tannins.
The Foglia tonda is that of the three which was found more often in blends, basically in the southern area of Siena but, anciently, in all of Tuscany and Umbria. Still in the aforementioned work by Di Rovasenda, its presence is attested in the vineyards of the Castle of Brolio del Barone Ricasoli.
Almost disappeared due to the alleged poor winemaking quality, it has recently been rediscovered with good luck and is having its moment of glory with good results in the DOC Orcia, in support of Sangiovese. Very pruinose and almost black peel, thanks to the good tannic structure in Chianti it was used to give body, in small percentage, and makes it more long-lived. The wine obtained is full-bodied, rich in color, with a good alcohol content, which blends perfectly with the Sangiovese and brings an intense, fruity and floral taste.
Coming to the mini vertical of two vintages proposed by Massimo Castellati for each of the three vines, 2015 and 2011, of a company that has made the recovery of ancient Tuscan vines a courageous and passionate mission, the Mannucci-Droandi of Montevarchi that in just over half a hectare dedicated to this research, it produces a thousand bottles a head for the vines mentioned. Since 2003 it has been certified organic and is followed, as an enologist, by Gianfrancesco Paoletti.
The two vintages chosen are very different from each other, 2015 undoubtedly good while 2011 is difficult due to the great heat that has stressed the grapes. This is to check how the three vines behave with changing weather conditions.
The first to take the field (it’s appropriate to say) was the Barsaglina, to be drunk preferably young and only a few vinified in purity but often used instead of the traditional Colorino.
In both vintages, the wine is made in large 10hl vats, with prolonged maceration of 20 days, then aged for 14 months in second and third passage barriques and finally 3 months of further stop in the bottle.
The 2015 vintage is presented with a beautiful olfactory cleanliness, with aromas of black fruits and floral note with the distinctive element of that acidity that cleans the mouth well and predisposes to the new sip. 2011 is characterized by an extractive mass of greater concentration, with aromas of cooked fruit, sour cherry in syrup, bark, undergrowth and bitter orange with long persistence and slightly balsamic finish.
Coming to Pugnitello, rediscovered in 1981 in Poggi del Sasso (Grosseto) in the experimental vineyards of San Felice – Vitarium Project of the University of Pisa and Florence. In the case of the Pugnitello Mannucci-Droandi, also in purity, the vinification takes place in smaller vats, 5 hl, with maceration always of 20 days but with 24 months of aging n barriques of second and third passage and subsequent 3 months in bottle.
The 2015 vintage expresses a not exuberant fruity, with more closed but delicate aromas of sweet spices, cinnamon, rhubarb, cinchona and cardamom. In the mouth it is saline with quiet tannins, integrated with the fruity component that has the best end. 2011 is more carnal, with dark spice and root notes. Well integrated tannin with acidity that supports the caloric note. Aromatic expansion of juniper and aromatic herbs. Pleasant and lasting taste.
For the Foglia tonda vine, which takes its name from the almost heart shape of the leaf, by Mannucci-Droandi, as for the Basaglina, the wine is made in 10hl vats, with prolonged maceration of 20 days, then aged for 14 months in barrique second and third passage and finally 3 months of further stop in the bottle.
The 2015 vintage has hints of violets, small fruits and prunes, with a earthy note. The acidity gives rise to the tannic note that associates it with the Sangiovese Valdarnese (with whom it seems to have a distant relationship) together with the dynamic and aggressive imprint of the drink. In 2011 the undergrowth of the Sangiovese peeps out in addition to the sour cherry, the cardamom and the nutmeg. Substantial tannins. Here too we note the good resistance to the dry vintage, which, as in the case of the other two varieties analyzed, make them excellent assembly partners for Sangiovese.