Antinori nel Chianti Classico: Famous Vineyards And Wineries of the World
So, Exactly what does one have to do to become a household name as a winery?
In this series, we will be taking a look at some of the world’s finest and most recognisable wineries from all over the globe, and learning about their history, the vineyards that bear their fruit and what it is that makes them so special.
First of all, what exactly does it take to make great wine?
So far in this series we have taken a look at 2 prestigious wineries, Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley, California and Marques De Riscal in Rioja, Spain.
If you’ve read either of these, you will know that there is a plethora of elements that go into making a wine what it is, a combination of factors that make every bottle special. In case you didn’t get to read them, here is a breakdown of what we are talking about before we dive into our next winery.
Every winery has a head Winemaker, this is the person who oversees every single aspect that goes into making that bottle of wine you grab to go with your Sunday dinner. (Or Monday, Or Tuesday….. You know, Any day that ends with y!!)
This Winemaker has the massive responsibility of monitoring the grapes at every step of their growth journey, from planting to harvesting and tasting in between to evaluate their ripening progression.
However, the making of a great wine starts far before the winemaker gets involved. It all starts with the Vineyard itself – a combination of several elements make up what makes each vineyard unique and gives its wine that “Je Ne Sais Quoi.”
The vineyard truly is the canvas on which winemakers will create their masterpieces.
The location, the soil in which the grapes are grown, and the methods used have a profound effect on what we taste in the wine, and this is what distinguishes one region’s wine from another – Chardonnay is a prime example.
Chardonnay is a favorite of many winemakers as it is very easy to grow and it is the perfect grape to showcase the nuances of the place in which it is grown – this is the quality known as Terroir among wine lovers and makers alike.
What Vineyard/Winery will we look at in this Article?
In this article we are venturing to the land of Pizza and Pasta, Italy to take a look at Marchesi Antinori. This spectacular winery is architecturally beautiful, blending into the rolling Tuscan hills overlooking the countryside.
The story of this Winery begins way back in 1385, and it has gone from strength to strength since then. The company now owns estates all over Italy and have acquired some worldwide also, but in this article we will be looking at Antinori nel Chianti Classico which was just named as The World’s Best Vineyard this year.
History of the Area
While the family have vineyards all over the country, this winery is located in Antinori nel Chianti Classico is located an hour south of Florence, in Tuscany one of Italy’s finest wine regions.
Viticulture in Tuscany has a rich thousand year history. Wine became a fundamental part of the daily diet of pretty much everyone, no matter their social class. Vineyards were popping up all over the region usually within cities and monasteries. But it wasn’t just monks who held a strong passion for wine, many noble families of the region including the Antinori family began producing fantastic Tuscan wines way back in the Middle Ages. The names of these families are still seen on bottles in wine stores all around the world.
In 1716 Cosimo III (The Grand Duke Of Tuscany) decided to define the wine growing areas by setting the boundaries of selected areas for the production of quality wines. This was a first in history, and this is the first legal example of DOC( denominazione di origine controllata – Italy’s version of the French AOC, a wine classification system based on where and how wines are made).
This announcement meant four wine-growing areas were defined for the first time: Chianti (This pretty much encompasses the current Chianti Classico area), Pomino, Carmignano and Valdarno Superiore.
2 preserved documents were found in the archives of Castle of Brolio; these were the first ever laws concerning appellation of origin. The first document, dated 7th July 1716 established a ‘Congregation of Wine’. This year is still marked on the logo of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico today.
The second document set strict standards for the trade and sale of the wines made in the region, as well as setting the rule that the Consortium would confirm each wine is within the boundaries set for the production of its wine.
They would also oversee the registration of each vineyard, supervise their production,do their utmost to deter and control fraud, and supervise shipping. Later, in 1872 the owner of ‘Castello di Brolio’ (A true symbol of the territory of the Chianti Classico area) Baron Bettino Ricasoli originated the formula for Chianti wine, now known as Chianti Classico. Ricasoli was a visionary wine enthusiast and a devoted politician, he described that Chianti should consist of a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes.
History of The Winery
The Antinori family have been making wine for 26 generations, making them the 10th oldest wine making family in the world. Back in 1269, The family resided in an area near Florence. In a devastating and sudden turn of events their castle was destroyed during a siege. They upped and moved to Florence as a result.
It’s in 1385 that their history in the wine world truly begins. Giovanni di Piero Antinori became a member of the Arte Fiorentina dei Vinattieri, the Florentine Winemakers’ Guild. From here on out the family dedicated themselves to Viticulture.
Their wine grew in fame over the years, so much so that in 1506 they purchased ‘Palazzo Anitori’ – which cost them a whopping 4,000 Florins (a lot of money at that time!). This was no big deal for the family as Alessandro Antimnori was one of the richest men in Florence at this time.
Unfortunately, things took a turn and like so many other Wealthy Florentines he was soon bankrupted by the economic effect of Charles V Of Spain’s New world gold. Despite the financial difficulties, the family still prospered and their wine business continued to flourish.
In 1900, Piero Antinori purchased many vineyards in the Chianti Classico region. His son Niccolo sent shockwaves through the wine community when he threw the rulebook out the window and made a Chianti containing Bordeaux wine varieties. He was continually trying new things, experimenting with all sorts of different blends, bottle aging and a variety of various types of barrels.
He retired in 1966 and was replaced by his son Piero. Piero surprised everyone by being even more of an innovator than his father, investigating things such as malolactic fermentation of red wines and even early harvesting of white grapes.
A real turning point in the family’s legacy came in 1974 when they launched their first vintage, Tignanello. It was a barrique-aged wine using Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from Tignanello, a 47 hectare vineyard in the Chianti Classico region. This wine created an uproar due to the use of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Sangiovese blend and the fact that it was aged in small French Barriques. Both of these methods were unheard of at the time and Antinori was considered treacherous for doing so. Pretty soon barrique aged blends began to emerge all over the region.
This wine was actually ineligible for the Chianti Classico appellation as no white grape varieties were used. The rules have since changed, Tiganello would now be included in the DOCG rules but the Antinori’s still sell it under one of the other 4 wine classifications recognized by the Government of Italy, IGT – ‘Indicazione geografica tipica’.
Inspired by the success of Tignanello, Antinori released Solaia in 1978. This wine contained 80% Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyard of the same name.
During the inflation of the 80’s and 90’s, Antinori showed no sign of slowing down. They invested in a plethora of other wineries and vineyards all over the world – including the USA, Chile, Malta and Romania.
The Winery Today
In 2012 after seven long years of construction, The Antinori nel Chianti Classico winery opened. It was designed and built based on the family’s own concept. It utilizes local materials including glass, wood and terracotta.
The 50,000 square-meter winery was intended to be an invisible building, integrated into the rolling hills. It seamlessly blends into the stunning landscape, surrounded by an abundance of oak trees and olive groves, with its roof covered in vineyards. The interior of the winery is split across 2 main storeys. The lower levels are where the wine is produced and stored, whilst the upper levels house all the visitor facilities, including a library, museum, auditorium and many area’s to sample their delicious wines and to shop.
The building is also eco friendly, it uses earth as an insulator which means naturally cool cellars to keep the wine cool even during the warm summers while reducing energy consumption.
Their Flagship Wine
Antinori have a smorgasbord of fantastic wine, but their flagship is undoubtedly their Tiganello. As previously mentioned this wine was an ambitious project, one of the first of its kind – A Sangiovienese blend without white grapes using Cabernet sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.
This wine is widely known as a trailblazer in Italian wines, one of the first ‘Super Tuscans’. ( This term is used to describe red wines from Tuscany that include non-indigenous grapes, particularly Syrah, Cabernet Sauvionon and Merlot.
Tignanello is an international award winner and is a regular feature on the international top 10 in ‘Wine Spectator’ magazine.
The first vintage wine was made in 1971, but it was the second vintage, the 1975 that is today one of the most sought after Italian Vintages worldwide. The 1975 is rare as a small amount of it was made, so if you ever see a bottle be sure to snap it up!!
The basic character of the wine has remained the same over the years, thanks to the terroir of where it is grown, but many believe it has evolved over the years. This evolution in style has not changed the fact that this wine was a pioneer of its time and it still lives up to its distinguished reputation today.
The blend of each vintage is a little different, but usually contains upwards of 80% Sangiovese and the rest is made up of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
As each vintage is different the tasting notes are of course vastly different, so let’s take a look at one that has been recently released and is approaching its prime drinking period – the 2019 Vintage.
2019 was a pretty classic growing season for the region, and as a result this wine is polished and stylish. This vintage has more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend than usual which highlights this wine’s depth. It has an impressive tannic structure rich with bright berry fruits and loaded with oak spice aromas.
This wine is spectacular enough to be enjoyed on its own, but it also pairs excellently with red meat and pasta dishes.
A bottle of Tignanello is definitely a worthwhile investment, whether you hold onto it or drink it immediately! Despite the fact that 25,000 – 30,000 cases of this wine are made each year, These bottles are usually snapped up within days of release, so if you want to score one make sure you keep an eye out for the upcoming release dates.