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Uncovering the Wine Region of the Medici

Updated: Jul 21


When Catherine dei Medici arrived in France in 1533 to marry the Duke of Orleans Enrico her dowry included several dozen forks wrought by the great Italian Silver smith and sculpture artist Benvenuto Cellini.


Florentine and Sicilian pastry chefs arrived at the French Court thanks to Catherine. Who additionally transferred Italian ingredients to France. That included olive oil, spinach, crespelle, legumes, peas, artichoke, the use of orange when cooking poultry, and types of spaghetti macaroni, tagliatelle, and lasagne. Fruit Sorbet's, gelato, zabaione, and cream.


Catherine even bought a few of her favorite French ingredients to Tuscany. This included Cabernet Sauvignon that was planted around the hunting lodges and summer homes of the Medici located west of Florence.


The area today is called the Carmignano Region. Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 80% Sangiovese to create a Carmignano DOCG. One of the smallest DOCG appellations of Italy.


In 1716 the Grand duke Cosimo III dei Medici established borders of four Tuscan Wine Regions Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano, and the Arno Valley. Cosimo III would import Root cuttings from Spain, France, and Greece. To experiment and study 'alien wines'. His aim was to improve the quality of local cultivars.


In 1680 at the Artimino farm white and black Vernaccia, Moscadello, and Malaga had been planted. Between 1670 and 1699 Carmignano's white and reds from Le Ginestre and Artimino farms were sent to England, Paris, and German. One hundred years later Carmignano's wine travels to America.


Today there are 14 produces of Carmignano Wine. The Carmignano region is a boutique wine zone that you can visit for a half day from Florence!



With just a short drive from Florence, experience this divine valley with its rich history and splendid stories. Here are a few of my favorite itineraries, with wine tasting tours and restaurants.


BISCOTTI, VINSANTO,PONTORMO & BIODYNAMIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Visit a biodynamic Olive Oil farm that belongs to Contessa Rosella Bencini (photo with me & Rosella at Fattoria di Bacceretto). Rosella Bencini is one of the veterans of Bio-Dynamic farming. (since 2001)


The Estate is surrounded by rolling hills of Olive and vineyards dotted with Villas of Nobile families that once included the Medici. The area toward Prato was a major valley of hunting lodges and prestigious Villas of the family that ruled Tuscany for over 350 Years.



Stop in the town of Carmignano along the way to see Pontormo's Visitation at the Church of San Michele and pick up some of the town's traditional 'Amaretti' biscuits to enjoy with Bacceretto Vin Santo.


Since 1897 La Bottega di Fochi have been making fresh amaretti! you can smell the aroma of freshly made biscotti as soon as you enter the store!


Arrived at Fattoria di Bacchereto. Enjoy a walk around the beautiful Italian gardens of fruit trees and flowers. Visit the vineyards and olive groves. Experience views of the small hamlet known as Bacchereto. See the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s grandmother situated in the town center. Arrive in the tasting room to meet charming Farmer Alberto to taste estate extra virgin olive oil on bread toasted over a wood fire (called ‘Fettunta’ in Tuscany). You will also taste delicious dessert wine ‘vino santo’ with amaretti & sun-dried figs (if available) made by Alberto and recognized by slow food.


Duration of Tour: 4 Hours

Includes: English Speaking Driver in luxury Mercedes Chauffeur, Tour Leader, all tastings

Itinerary:

09.00 am - Meet your driver and guide in Hotel Lobby

10.00 am - Tour Olive Oil Farm

01.00pm - Arrive at Accommodations

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Varietals include: Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, Pendolino

Price for 6 persons: 140 Euro per person


Tenuta di Capezzana & Poggio ai Caiano

Meet your driver and guide in Florence. Enjoy a scenic drive to the Carmignano Region. This picturesque wine zone is dotted with numerous Medicean Villas once used as summer homes and for hunting.


The Cabernet grape has been growing in this area since the Medici. In the 20th century, renewed cuttings were bought over from Chàteau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux. In 1975 the area was awarded DOC sanctioning for the use of the Cabernet Sauvignon.


Visit the home of Count and Contessa Bonacossi for a tour of an original Medici Estate. Today Tenuta di Capezzana is managed and owned by the Contini Bonacossi family.



The family produces one of the most well-known Carmignano red and white blends along with extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy a walk through ancient cellars along with their beautiful estate. Arrive at the tasting room to enjoy a tasting that will include Villa di Capezzana DOCG Carmignano 20% Sangiovese and 80% Cabernet Sauvignon. Ghaie Della Furba IGT Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France & Merlot.




Continue to the town of Poggio a Caiano to visit a second Medici property. Built by the great architect Giuliano da Sangallo for Lorenzo De Medici between 1445 to 1520. View works by Pontormo. Arrive on the second floor of the villa to witness the 'Still Life Museum' Museo Natura Morta by Bartolomeo Bimbi. Enjoy a walk around the gardens to see the ancient Lemon Trees before meeting our Chauffeur driver to return to Florence.

Duration of Tour: 5 hours Includes: Driver/ Guide in luxury Mercedes Chauffeur, Wine Tour and Tasting, Villa Medicea Itinerary: 9.00 am Meet your guide at Hotel 10.00 am Tour Estate 12.30 pm Visit Medici Villa 2.00 pm Arrive at Accommodations Grape Varietals that grow on the Estate: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah Price for 6 persons: 165 Euro per person



Restaurants in the Carmignano Region


Ristorante Da Delfina is an institution for the 'pratesi' the people from this valley.

The property is the original home of 'Nonna Delfina' the grandmother of the current owner Carlo Cioni. Carlo has continued serving original recipes prepared by his grandmother and mother. Enjoy typical plates and breathtaking views of Villa Ferdinanda.


A great place to visit for lunch and summer dining outside where you can witness gorgeous views of Villa Ferdinanda. Dining inside with delicious meat dishes and soups in the autumn and winter is also divine.



Osteria Su pe'l'Canto

Family-run restaurant located in the town center of Carmignano. Serves delicious seasonal fair. The Di 'Alderighi family has been serving their special recipes at this location for over 25 years. Francesco the son is a sommelier who pairs his parents' dishes perfectly with his wine selection. Epic dishes include rabbit rolled with fig and pear and the Ribolità of Carmignano!





















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