‘Ambra’ (amber) is the name of a beautiful honey-yellow coloured stone. Or rather, not a stone but a translucent fossilized resin from prehistoric trees. Because of its qualities, it is much sought after and mainly used in jewellery.
‘Ambra’ also is the name of a small poem, a poemetto as the Italian call it. Actually it counts no more than a few lines, but what a delicious lines! In it, the ‘romance’ between a river god and a forest nymph (Ambra) is sketched. The river god, that is the Ombrone. Admittedly, it is not a very impressive river and a minor tributary to the Arno. Nevertheless, he is a superbo amante, which needs no translation. The word Ombrone comes from shadow (ombra), very sought after in Italy’s hot summers. The nymph Ambra has taken the shape of a cigne, a swan, and comes to seek some shadow, and rest?, near a small island, a disguise of the river god. The rest we can guess.
The poet of these charming little lines was no other than Lorenzo Il Magnifico, the 15th- centrury ruler of Florence. A typical Renaissance person, well versed in poems, in theatre, in literature, and in the arts in general. In Poggio a Caiano, somewhat west of Florence, his family owned a villa, bordered by the river Ombrone. So Lorenzo may well have sat there on a sunny warm afternoon, seeing a swan on the river and creating his poemetto.
Three centuries later, in 1870, the Romei Rigoli family bought a small estate near the Medici villa and the river Ombrone, and named it Ambra, after the poem. Nowadays, they own 20 hectares of vineyards in the hills of the Carmignano DOCG, which stands for some of Tuscany’s finest wines. The main grape is Sangiovese, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and some Canaiolo Nero, Colorino and others. Cabernet Sauvignon was actually introduced here by the Medici family in the early 18th century, and they established a strict control of the Carmignano appellation. The borders of its area have never been extended, making it one of the smallest DOCG zones in Italy.
Apart from four Carmignano DOCG wines, the Romei Rigoli produce a younger DOC version, besides a rosé and a white one.