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NOT TO BE MISSED: Two Tuscan Greats from Piaggia - 'utterly mesmerising'

April 2023

 Not to be missed:
Two Tuscan greats from Piaggia
 'Utterly mesmerising'



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Where do I start? Let’s cut to the chase. I tasted two outstanding Tuscan reds just recently that blew me away. I would count them as two of the more surprising wines I have tasted this year – I didn’t know what to expect, but they are both truly exceptional.
Both wines come from Piaggia, an estate situated in the commune of Poggio a Caiano within the Carmignano DOCG, about 14 kilometres west of Florence. The estate was established in the 1970s by Mauro Vannucci, who was drawn to this location as he was convinced that he could produce a great Carmignano from this site, given its excellent exposure. The first vintage of Piaggia Carmignano Riserva that he produced was the 1991, and it was around this time that he supplemented the estate’s vineyard holding with an additional 15 hectares in a prime area near the centre of the Carmignano district. It is Mauro’s daughter, Silvia, who is the current owner of this 25-hectare estate, which comprises five different vineyard parcels.
I am still puzzled as to why I hadn’t heard of Piaggia until now, given the stunning quality of the wines I tasted. One of the reasons is perhaps that Carmignano, despite being historically recognised for the quality of its wines, is a very small DOCG, or appellation, covering around 110 hectares today. To place that into context, it is about the size of the vineyard mass of Château Lafite-Rothschild, with the crucial difference being that it is shared between some 20 or so producers. The Apennines exert a significant influence here; there is a wide range in daily temperatures that assist in retaining freshness and aromatics, and the soils consist of limestone and are well-drained. Along with the indigenous Sangiovese, the Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon, play a role in many of the wines in Carmignano, but these are no recent additions to the rollcall of varieties grown here – Catherine de’ Medici is said to have brought the varieties to the hills of Carmignano in the 16th century when she became queen of France.
In Eric Guido’s review on, I read with interest that the Vannuccis have their eyes set on expansion as they believe there are many undiscovered terroirs in Carmignano that are yet to be cultivated. Eric comments that ‘Some locations, just a stone's throw away from each other, would reveal drastically different soil types, from sandy clay to Galestro or layers of primary rock mixed with quartz.’  He goes on to add, ‘At this time, the vineyard totals stand at 22 hectares; yet, even as they grow, the quality here remains amazingly high. In fact, while many other wineries in Carmignano are starting to shine internationally, Piaggia remains its benchmark producer. With a focus on fruit and terroir, Silvia Vannucci continues to dial back on the use of new oak, and the wines really light up the palate as a result. However, oak is used throughout the portfolio as an accent more than an ingredient.’
So, just what impressed me so much? The Piaggia wines reveal an easily won ripeness allied to a terrific freshness, clarity, and purity. Such a sense of poise is not easily achieved; it is down to a combination of factors, such as the vineyard site itself, the viticultural practices employed, and the winemaking decisions taken. Above all, it is down to a fanatical focus on quality. When I visit well-known estates across Europe, there is a stated aim, which is to hold on to the quality that is in the fruit and not to diminish it through any heavy-handed approaches in the winery. At one very famous estate, they always smile and say “we did well this year and didn’t take too many wrong decisions”. I like the honesty in those comments. At Piaggia, the wines speak volumes, and you can sense that this same ethos is central to their approach; retain the quality of the fruit. On their website, when discussing the Carmignano Riserva they state that it ‘is made giving special attention to the finest detail: nothing is left to chance, either in the vineyard or in the cellar, because we believe our grapes deserve particular care and attention and because we want to offer the consumer a thrill that tells of the beauty of our vineyards and the aromas of our land.’  I think they have succeeded with these two wines, one from the 2020 vintage and the other from 2019.
Please note we invariably offer wines on an in bond basis, but in this instance the wines have been supplied to us duty paid and are therefore offered including duty and VAT.

2020 Cabernet Franc, Poggio de’ Colli, Piaggia
£348 per 6 bottle case including duty and VAT

A pure Cabernet Franc produced from old French clones on the Poggio de’ Colli vineyard. Only fruit from the best plots is selected.

My note:
The Poggio de' Colli is breath-taking – I scribbled in my note that it is the kind of wine that the team at Pomerol’s Château Lafleur would appreciate, the quality of the Cabernet Franc is stunning. This shows deep in the glass, ripe berry fruits, red and dark, with a certain savoury note and subtle background toastiness on the nose. So pure and focused, with beautifully detailed tannins, ripe and fine. This is an incredibly refined Cabernet Franc – nothing forced, no heavy overlay of oak, just super subtle framing. There is a note of sweet spice and a mineral note that punctuates the finish. So easy to appreciate now, but this gets better and better in the glass. So impressive – that freshness and purity is utterly mesmerising. An exercise in refinement with a deep core of fruit and no lack of richness. This is special. Drink 2025 to 2035 (SL)

97 points, Eric Guido,
The darkly alluring 2020 Cabernet Franc Poggio de' Colli takes its time in the glass, slowly awakening with a dusty mix of red currants, pepper-tinged rose, exotic curries and the slightest touch of animal musk that adds gravitas. This is velvety smooth yet finessed. It's cool-toned in feel with a potent wave of tart raspberry fruits that saturates the palate with savory spice and mineral tones. It leaves a coating of fine tannins and a staining of berry concentration through the finale, tapering off sapid and long, yet perfectly balanced. What a radiant vintage for the Poggio de' Colli, Piaggia's varietal Cabernet Franc. Revisit it in five years to see some real sparks fly. Drink 2026-2034.

2019 Carmignano Riserva, Piaggia
£264 per 6 bottle case including duty and VAT

This wine is the standard bearer for the estate and comes from an old vineyard near Poggetto, which is subject to rigorous selection. It is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot. Aged in French oak barriques for 18 months.

My note:
A different expression, but just as compelling. Bright in the glass, with a captivating juicy, fresh mélange of summer berry on the nose with a floral lift, all cassis, raspberry, and fragrant red fruits. Once more wonderfully pure, there is a more accessible and supple accent here in contrast to the Poggio de’ Colli, and yet still tons of potential. Layered, almost cushioned on the palate – packed with juicy, mashed summer fruits, a certain minty freshness and sweet baking spice. The way the acidity underscores the palate renders this so appealing and the near perfect extraction means the tannins are so sleek and refined. This is another spectacular wine – how could I not have come across this before? A brilliant example from an under-appreciated Tuscan terroir. Drink 2025 to 2032 (SL)

96 points, Eric Guido,
It's hard to put the glass down while exploring the depths of raspberry compote, dried orange peels, roses, exotic spice and a dusting of cocoa that form the absolutely stunning bouquet of the 2019 Carmignano Riserva Piaggia. This is pure elegance. It's silky and refined as liquid violet florals and ripe red and black fruits easily rush across the palate. Its vibrant acidity maintains exceptional finesse despite the massive primary concentration slowly taking hold. The 2019 finishes long with a coating of sweet tannins and balsamic-tinged cherry. The balance here is amazing, which might trick readers into finishing their bottles far too quickly, but trust me, the best is truly yet to come. This is Rock Star juice. Drink : 2024-2034.
As you may have gathered, I am delighted to able to offer these two spectacular wines. I think they are truly exciting – the quality belies the price point, as they are so precise and pure. Simply put, they share the attributes of great wines.
Please let us know of your interest at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment as stocks as unsurprisingly limited.
All the best,

To request a wine, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299, or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis. 

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

Atlas House, 1 King Street
London, EC2V 8AU
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
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