Carmignano, Pomino, Colline Aretine, Colline Senesi, San Gimignano, Siena, Val d’Arbia and Val d’Orcia
Colline Fiorentine and Colline Pratesi (hills around Florence and Prato).
Carmignano is in the hills to the west of Florence, there are 200 hectares of vineyard here. The area has traditionally grown the uva francese, (better known as cabernet sauvignon) and blended it with sangiovese, long before this blend became fashionable all over central Italy. In 1975 the area was awarded its own DOCG which stipulates that the wine should be at least 50% sangiovese, a maximum of 20% canaiolo, between 10 and 20% cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc and other varieties up to 10%. Because these rules are flexible Carmignano DOCG wines can vary greatly in style: alcoholic and structured if the maximum amount of cabernet (20%) and other international grapes (10%) are used; softer and full of minerals if the maximum 80% sangiovese is used. You may also come across another wine from Carmignano called Barco Reale Rosso DOC, it has the same blending rules but shorter ageing in oak.
Pomino is to the north east of Florence and overlaps with the Chianti Rufina zone. Like Carmignano, it is an area where French grapes have been traditionally grown. Pomino is available as both white and red wines. Pomino Bianco DOC can be made from 100% chardonnay or blended with pinot bianco and pinot grigio. Pomino Rosso is made with sangiovese, pinot nero and merlot.
Colline Aretine (hills around Arezzo) there are three distinct areas to this wine growing area, Valdarno Aretino, Valdichiana and Cortona. As well as producing Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG, a wide range of wines are made in the Valdarno and highly regarded Syrah is produced around Cortona.
The Valdichiana (the wide flat valley floor below Cortona) was once known only for Bianco Vergine della Valdichiana DOC (current rules stipulate that it should be made with at least 20% trebbiano and up to 80% chardonnay, in addition pinot grigio, pinot bianco and grechetto are also permitted). Today there are several DOCs from the area that include whites made with chardonnay and grechetto and reds made from sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. There are also DOCs for sparkling wines, rosé and Vin Santo.
Colline Senesi (Sienese Hills). This area includes San Gimignano, Val d’Arbia, Montalcino, Montepulciano and the Val d’Orcia.
San Gimignano The white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, is made with the vernaccia grape (vernaccia has the same latin root as the English “vernacular” and therefore implies that the grape is specific to the area, just to add to the confusion, I have come across another (red) grape with the same name in Umbria). There are 800 hectares of vineyard around San Gimignano producing Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG wine. The wine is soft and has a decisive minerality with notes of dried fruit, flint and hydrocarbons. Look out for the Riserva, which has had a year ageing in oak.
Siena look out for Terre di Casole and Grance Senesi, both wines with a sangiovese base.
Val d’Arbia produces vin santo and some dry white wines.
Val d’Orcia is between Montalcino and Montepulciano, it includes the towns of Pienza and San Quirico Val d’Orcia. The wines vary in type thanks to soils that range from clay in the north to more sandy and rocky, becoming volcanic further south, the reds are sangiovese based.