As with many Tuscan wine estates there is an ancient history of winemaking here going back millennia. Evidence of Etruscan and Roman occupation abounds and in the state archives of the city of Florence one can find a contract date 804 AD that shows that vines and olives were cultivated at Capezzana at that time. Since then, of course, there have been many owners of the land, and in the 1020s the land was purchased by Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, an antiques dealer and art collector of great repute.
Recognising the potential of his estate, the count began bottling the wine himself almost immediately. His son Ugo was of a similar mind and at a time when many post-war Italian producers were seeking to make quantity without very much regard for quality Ugo went the other way, convinced of the quality that was attainable from the estate. He focused the then polycultural estate on wines and replanted many vineyard areas and even introducing cutting of cabernet sauvignon that were said to be from Château Lafite. His focus on quality was a wise move, and today the estate is one of the most famous in Tuscany and the foremost in the Carmignano appellation.
Today the estate is still very much a family affair with various members involved in its management, and Benedetta Contini Bonacossi is the winemaker while brother Filippo is responsible for the vineyards with the help of his nephews. The property covers over 100 hectares of relatively low-lying land, for Tuscany anyway, between Florence and Pisa and in recent years has seen something of a revival as Benedetta, with the advice of noted consultant Stefano Chioccioli, has replanted to a higher density, refurbished the cellars and narrowed the range to improve the quality and consistency of the wines. It has worked and the estate is back to its best. The Carmignano DOCG is sangiovese blended with about 20% cabernet sauvignon, an innovation of Ugo's after the war, aged judiciously in French oak.
The new generation has reinvigorated a property that had somewhat trod water for a couple of decades and the wines once again show why this estate was one of the catalysts for the creation of the Carmignano appellation. Quite apart from the wines made here, any food lovers' interest should be piqued by the superb olive oil made from groves on the estate. The Bonacossis have always been justly famous for the deliciousness of the feasts set before family, friends and guests, underpinned by the wonderful oil and accompanied by their own excellent wines.