Category Archives: Capezzana

Vernaccia and Carmignano with Doctor Wine

At a recent Zoom tasting at Il Gattopardo Restaurant, Dr. Wine, Daniele Cernilli, spoke about the wines of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Carmignano.

IMG_5227Daniele Cernilli is the author of many books, including The Essential Guide to Italian Wine.

IMG_0506Picture of me andSpeaking with Nunzio Castaldo of Panebianco wines and Silvio Solari before the tasting at IL Gattopardo


San Gimignano is a Tuscan hill town southwest of Florence and gives its name to this white wine. Records show the wine has been produced since 1286. With the DOC classification in 1966 it was one of the first to receive the DOC and later received the DOCG. 

IMG_5146Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2020 Borgo “Alla Terra” Geografico made from 100% Vernaccia. Traditional white wine vinification and some aging in bottle before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, apple and pear with a note of almonds.

IMG_5147Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2020 Isola Bianca Teruzzi & Puthod made from 100% Vernaccia from different vineyards of the estate. Soils of Pilocene origin show the presence of clay. Grape skin maceration takes place in the press for one night, the day after the harvest. There is a cold settling of the must and alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. This is a fruit driven wine with hints of citrus fruits, honey, and floral notes, with a touch of fresh almonds and good minerality and acidity. The wine is aged exclusively in stainless steel barrels for 4 to 5 months at a controlled temperature.

IMG_5148Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2018 Campo della Pieve IL Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia. The 1.5-hectare vineyard is at 360 to 400 meters and there are 5,500 vines per hectare. The soil is old Pilocene, which is sand and clay, and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest by hand is the end of September and beginning of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts at a controlled temperature. Maturation is on the lees in cement vats with periodic batonnage for 18/20 months. This is a complex and aromatic wine with hints of ripe yellow stone fruit, citrus, white flowers and toasted almonds and a very nice finish. The winery is organic.

IMG_5149Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2017 Riserva Cesani made from 100% Vernaccia. The exposure is Southeast and the vineyard is at 250 to 300 meters. The soil is sandy limestone with marine deposits from the Pilocene period and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is the last week of September and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for one year in stainless steel vats. The wine is bottled the August after the harvest. The wine remains in the bottle for one and one half years before release.

IMG_5150Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015 Riserva Panizzi made from 100% Vernaccia from the Santa Margherita Vineyard. Harvest is the second half of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and alcoholic fermentation is in barriques 50% and stainless steel 50% at a controlled temperature. They are aged in barriques and stainless steel for 4 to 5 months at a controlled temperature. They are blended together and then bottled. The wine has hints of vanilla, floral notes, grapefruit and pineapple undertones and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.


Carmignano wines have a long history but in the 1960’s when the Italians started to regulate their wines it was absorbed into “Chianti” and sold as Chianti Montalbano. It was not until 1975 that it was given its own DOC, (retroactive to 1969) and Carmignano Wine became DOCG in 1990. The wine gets its name from the village of Carmignano, which is 12 miles from Florence.

IMG_5151Carmignano 2017 Poggilarca made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The soil is silt and sand with a good percentage of clay. Training system is guyot in the older vineyard and cordon spur in all others. The altitude is 130 meters. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. Maturation is for 18/20 days with frequent pumping over the skins. Half of the wine is aged in 30HL and 50HL Slavonian oak barrels and the rest in barriques for a minimum of 10 months and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco and spice with a vanilla sensation.

IMG_5152Carmignano Riserva 2017 Piaggia made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot. The soil is medium textured with clay and galestro. The vineyards are at 250 meters, the training system is guyot and the exposure is southwest. There are 6,250 vines per hectare. There is a careful selection of grapes. Fermentation is carried out without selected yeasts. Skin contact is from 18 /25 to 28 days depending on the variety during which punching down and pumping over take place. Malolactic fermentation is in Franck oak barriques and the wine remains here for 18 months. The wine is racked a few times to make it ready to be bottled. Filtration or clarification does not take place. The wine remains in bottle for 6 months before release. There are hints of ripe fruit, chocolate and sweet spice in the wine.

IMG_5153Carmignano 2016 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the wines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd and 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red berries, violets with a note of blueberries and a touch of I have a long history with this estate going back 40 years. This is a wine that can age. In 1985 I had the 1925 which at the time was labeled Chianti Montalbano.

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Filed under Capezzana, Carmignano, Verrnaccia

Venice, La Serenissima


As we approached Venice by water taxi I was struck once again by how magical and dream-like this ancient city is with its picturesque canals, graceful bridges and beautiful architecture.IMG_5581

The taxi docked right beside a café and restaurant that looked as if it would be an ideal spot to have breakfast called the l’Ombra del Leone. When we returned the next morning, the place was empty although the outdoor seating was the perfect place to watch the gondolas participating in the celebration of the Festa e Regata della Sensa, an annual event. Among the boats was an ornate one called the Bucintoro used by the Doge, the leader of Venice. The mayor, replacing the Doge of old, throws a gold ring overboard to symbolize Venice’s marriage to the sea. Yes, Michele and I agreed as we sipped cappuccino and ate our cornetti, Venice is a magical city and full of surprises around every corner.

The Restaurants We Enjoyed

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

Ai Gondolieri is a meat lover’s restaurant in a city surrounded by water and known for its seafood. The restaurant began as an old inn where locals could go to eat simple meats, drink a glass of wine and play cards. Today it has become a refined, quiet restaurant with excellent service and food. I had perfectly fried zucchini flowers to begin and then slices of calf’s liver on Venetian polenta, which was wonderful.

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

With dinner we had a wine that I have been drinking for many years, the Villa Capezzana Carmignano 2008 DOCG made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo.

IMG_5575 The hillside vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters and the exposure is south, southeast and southwest. The soil composition is shale and the harvest is in mid September. Vinification is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in 25HL Allier barrels for 10 months. It remains in bottle another 3 months before release.

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  I posted pictures of Venice on Facebook while we were there and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and that “the wine list will blow you away.” She added that we should ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this we just had to go. The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is out door dining.

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flwers

We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith highly recommended the restaurant to us.



We discussed the extensive wine list and I found a wine I had never had before from one of my favorite producers, the Cerasuolo di Abruzzo Rosato which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2012 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a “white wine” and are pressed by “foot” and the must is fermented without the skins. It was one of the best Rose wines that it has ever been my pleasure to drink.IMG_5597

The wine was an excellent combination with pasta with zucchini and zucchini flowers to start followed by seppie (cuttlefish) in a black ink sauce and peas with grilled polenta.

Fiaschetteria Toscana This restaurant began as a Tuscan wine shop where products from Tuscany were sold. It later became a trattoria and in 1983 a restaurant. Michele and I have been coming here for a number of years.



It has a very nice dining room and two upstairs rooms for larger parties and outdoor dining in a small piazza just across the street. I ordered the moleche, which are baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor and I order them whenever I can. We ended with Michele’s favorite, wild strawberries with crema gelato.


Filed under Ai Gondolieri, Capezzana, Cerasuolo, Emidio Pepe, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Restaurant Wildner, Rose, Uncategorized, Venice

Capezzana- Part II

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Carmignano from the Capezzana winery in Tuscany. I have a long history with their wines going back to the 1925 vintage. But that was only half of the story. Here are a few more of the wines from Capezzana which I enjoyed over lunch with Beatrice Bonacossi, an owner of the winery.  IMG_3821

Barco Reale Di Carmignano D.O.C. 2010 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon,10% Canaiolo and 5% Cabernet Franc
The vines are between 150 and 200 meters and the exposure is South-South West and South East. Soil composition is clay schist and limestone. The harvest starts in the beginning of September with the Sangiovese and ends in the middle of October with the Cabernet. Whole grape bunches are pressed and fermented, maceration takes place under strictly controlled temperatures with initial fermentation occurring in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in oak barrels for six months and at least three months in bottle before release. Beatrice said that this was a baby Carmignano, the only difference is the vinification in that these grapes undergo less skin contact and a shorter period of aging. She added that the Barco Reale was their everyday drinking wine. $15

Trefiano Carmignano D.O.C.G. 2007 80% Sangiovese, 10 Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% CanaioloIMG_3823

Made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon,5%Cabernet Franc and 10% Canaiolo. In 1994 Beatrice’s brother, Vittorio Contini Bonacossi, asked his father Count Ugo for permission to make his own experimental wine. Vittorio wanted to make an easy drinking but complex wine.

He chose the grapes from the Trefiano vineyard surrounding the family’s 16th century Villa Trefiano. The vineyard is at 200 meters, the soils clay schist and limestone and the exposure is south-southwest. The harvest takes place the end of September and the beginning of October. Beatrice said that he reduced yields and introduced small 350 liter Allier barrels for vinification. The vinification of this wine is the same as for the Carmignano D.O.C.G. but it is aged longer. Individual lots remain in barrel for 16 months prior to blending and then in bottle for 18 months before release. $55

Sausages with Grapes for Lunch

Sausages with Grapes for Lunch

Ghiaie della Furba I.G.T. 2007 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah.IMG_3825

The vineyards are at 200 meters with a south-south west exposure and the soil is clay schist and limestone. Harvest takes place the end of September and the beginning of October. Hand picked grapes are pressed and fermented, then macerated under strictly controlled temperatures. The initial alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, followed by malolactic fermentation in French oak.  The wine is aged in barriques for 16 months and at least 12 months in bottle before release. The wine was first produced in 1979 and Cabernet Franc was in the blend (it was a classic Bordeaux blend).  In 1992 Cabernet Franc was eliminated and more Cabernet Sauvignon was put into the blend.  Finally in 1998 Syrah was added to the mix.

Beatrice said that the name of the wine is a reference to pebbles in the bed of a stream named Furba on the property. $55

Vin Santo Riserva D.O.C.G. 2006 90% Trebbiano and 10% San ColombanoIMG_3809

Beatrice said that the San Colombano is a late-ripening, heritage grape, very rare today, but prevalent in blends in the 18th century. The soil is clay schist and the harvest takes place at the beginning of September. The grapes are hand picked into baskets lined with grape leaves and only the best bunches are chosen. The grapes are dried on mats until February/March becoming almost raisin-like. The wine is then fermented and aged in separated 40 to 50 lots, mostly in 100 liter caratelli. Most of the barrels are made of chestnut and cherry wood, the wood for these barrels are grown on the property, accenting Capezzana’s special terroir even more. Beatrice said that her sister Benedetta Contini Bonacossi especially likes to use chestnut wood for this dessert wine. There are a few barrels made from a combination of chestnut, cherry maple and oak. Beatrice said that for her sister, making this wine is a labor of love and you can hear it in her voice when she speaks about the wine. The wine is aged for 5 years and then another 3 months in bottle before release. $55 for a 375 ml bottle.


Filed under Capezzana, Carmignano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Vin Santo

Capezzana Carmignano: A Wine for the “Ages”

I have been drinking the Carmignano from Tenuta di Capezzana for over 35 years and it has always been of one my favorite wines.  The first time I understood the wine and how well it aged was when the late Count Ugo Bonacossi and his wife Contessa Lisa, the owners of the winery, came to dinner at my home. The year was 1985 and the Count brought a bottle of 1925 “Carmignano” which was labeled Chianti Montalbano.  The reason for the label was that Carmignano D.O.C. was not recognized until 1975, thanks to the efforts of count Ugo, retroactive to 1969.

The 1925 was wonderful and showed almost no signs of age. Since that dinner, I have had a number of older bottles of the Carmignano here and some at the winery and enjoyed them all.

Beatrice Bonacossi

Beatrice Bonacossi

Recently, Beatrice Buonacossi, the daughter of the Count was in NYC and invited me to a tasting and lunch of wines going back to 1968. I have known Beatrice for a number of years now and she is one of my favorite people in the wine business.  I told Beatrice about the 1925 Carmignano and she said that they had opened a bottle recently and it was still in great condition!

Before we tasted the wines Beatrice spoke about the winery today.  She said that it was a family affair and four of the seven children of the Count run the estate.  She said that Capezzana is situated in northern Tuscany, near the town of Carmignano, 20km from Florence on the slopes of Montalbano close to the Apennine Mountains, and that the winery accounts for over 50% of all the Carmignano produced.

She also said that the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to make Carmignano dates to the 16th century and the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon coincides with the marriage of Catherine de Medici to the King of France. The Medici used the area as their personal hunting grounds. Since that time Carmignano has been a blend of Sangiovese and a dash of Cabernet.  The winery uses sustainable practices, pending organic certification in 2015.

We began with a tasting of Carmignano from 2008 to 1968.  IMG_3817

Villa Di Capezzana Carmignano  D.O.C.G 2008 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines have a South-South West Exposure. Soil type and harvest are the same as is the vinification except that the malolactic fermentation is in French oak. The wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux for 15 months and at least 10 months in bottle before release. $30IMG_3812

With the 1997 vintage I believe they did away with the Riserva label, the use of Canaiolo, and botti. Barriques and tonneaux were introduced and the oak was now French -Allier.

Villa Capezzana Carmignano 1998 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged for 12 months in 350-liter tonneaux and another 16 months in bottle before release.  $150

With the 1997 vintage I believe they did away with the Riserva label, the use of Canaiolo, and big Slovenian oak barrels called botti. Barriques and tonneaux were introduced and the oak was now French -Allier

Villa Capezzana Riserva Carmignano 1988 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 5% complimentary grapes. The wine was aged in for 24 months in botti of 23 hectoliters made from Slovenian oak and 12 months in bottle before release.$280IMG_3804

Villa Capezzana Riserva Carmignano 1977  65% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Canaiolo and 10%  complimentary grapes. Vinification, same as above.

Villa Capezzano Riserva Carmignano 1968 65% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet Sauvignon,15% Canaiolo and 10% complimentary grapes.  Aged 24 months in botti of 25 hectoliters of Slovenian oak and 24 months in bottle before release. $350

All the wines were showing very well, I saved some of the older wines to have with lunch.IMG_3808

They also make a wonderful extra virgin olive oil $55 and there is a cooking school on the property which was founded by Contessa Lisa.

More on the lunch and the other Capezzana wines another time.


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Filed under Capezzana, Carmignano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine