Thursday, September 8, 2016

Carmine Estate and its wines

The Carmine Estate is a 125-ha property located in the shadow of Monte Tezio in a valley 1 km outside the small village of La Bruna. The valley was recently bought by the current owner and rehabilitated from the disrepair into which it had fallen post its abandonment 50 years ago in the farm-to-city exodus experienced by the area.

The valley is blocked from most weather systems by surrounding hills but still manages to accumulate between 950 and 1100 mm of rain annually. This much water results in significant downy mildew problems, a situation that is not simplified by the estate's adherence to organic farming principles. According to David Lang, Estate Manager, "copious amounts" of copper sulfate is sprayed on the plants but they are still subject to substantive crop loss. For example, the basic red contained 8% Sagrantino in 2013 and none in 2014, the latter a direct result of lower Sagrantino production in 2014.

Of the 125 ha, 5.7 ha have been planted to vine. A significant amount of prep work had to be done before the actual vines were planted. Heavy machinery had to be brought in to pull up the old vines and to remove the boulders and the large oak trees that had sprung up in the vineyards since their abandonment. The old pipes leading from the dam to La Bruna were asbestos-lined and so had to be dug up and replaced, while the dam itself had to be refurbished (with mechanisms employed to preserve the fish living in its waters).

The initial planting was 15,000 vines and, while the plan is to avoid irrigating mature vines, newly planted vines need water. This was done manually, a tedious, tiring, time-consuming process. In keeping with its organic philosophy, no fertilizers or pesticides are utilized in the vineyard. The varieties planted are Trebbiano Spoletino (1.7 ha), Merlot, Sangiovese, and Sagrantino. The estate utilizes the services of an external viticultural consultant for advice in counsel in vineyard decisions.

David Long, the aforementioned Estate Manager, brought over a few bottles of the estate's wines for us to taste. The overriding sense that I got was a lack of concentration, attributable, most likely, to the relative youth of the vines. The role of the significant amount of rainfall that the area receives should not be discounted however.

The 2015 Trebbiano was fermented in stainless steel and is characterized primarily by its acidity. This wine would benefit from proximity to food. Light-bodied with a medium finish.

The 2013 Vino della Chiesa is a  blend of 55% Sangiovese, 35% Merlot, and 10% Sagrantino. This wine was stainless-steel fermented and aged in 250 and 500 L oak barrels. A light, red fruit nose with some bramble characteristics and a slight pungency. Tannic sour fruit on the palate accompanying a spiciness. Bitter finish. Light-bodied and non-complex. The 2104 version of this wine was a 55%/45% Sangiovese-Merlot blend and showed more dark fruit and savoriness and less tannin and acid than the 2013. Slightly vegetal.

The final wine was the 2014 Il Campanile, a blend of Sangiovese (74%), Sagrantino (18%), and Merlot (8%). This wine was aged in French barriques. It is softer in style than the preceding two reds and exhibits a little more complexity. This wine will also benefit from increasing vine age.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a beautiful location, and how exciting that he's taking the time, money, and effort to rebuild the estate. Hopefully a little time and TLC will help the wines develop and grow.