By now we all know about the history of the Antinori family. Having been established for centuries, the family has been at the forefront of the Italian wine industry for hundreds of years and has delivered some of the greatest wines in the world.
They have a particular reputation for Chianti and have become even more famous in recent years for their innovations in relation to the Super Tuscan drinks, but they also have a lot more history besides that makes them relevant. Furthermore, the company doesn’t simply limit itself to one type of wine, instead making a whole range of great drinks that can be enjoyed by people with very wide ranging tastes.
The overall aim of the Antinori family seems to be to make wines for everybody, with an overall quality that most other producers find difficult to match. In fact, quality is the operative word when it comes to the family, and it is very rare for the company to produce any sort of product that isn’t right at the top of the pile when it comes time to discuss the great Italian wines.
With that in mind, we thought we would have a quick refresher about the company’s history before delving into one of their lesser known wines in an effort to show that there is more to them than Chianti and a famous name.
While the official Antinori history starts in 1385, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori first joined the Guild of Winemakers, the family has actually been involved in the business since the late 12th century, back when the family called the small Tuscan town of Calenzano their home. During this period the wine industry was nowhere near being the monolith that it would become and the family had yet to achieve any real level of wealth or fame.
This was compounded when the Castello do Combiate was destroyed in 1202, prompting the family to move to Florence and begin developing a reputation in the silk and banking industries. Both were becoming increasingly popular industries at the time and the family used them to start building a reputation and a base of power in the city. It wasn’t long before they became one of the most important Florentine families of the era.
However, the passion for creating great wines never left and the family soon began to rebuild the small reputation they had previously created, which was then expanded as their creations became more famous and adored.
By the early 16th century their wine business was almost as important as their banking and silk activities, so much so that they were even able to purchase their own Palazzo from the Boni family. The family had become one of the richest in Italy during this period, with much of the wealth coming from their great wines, but there were harder times to come in the following years.
The discovery of the Americas played havoc with the Antinori finances, as a flood of gold from the New World left their banking interests in ruins. At one point the family was even bankrupted, though they managed to claw back much of their money over the years.
Even so, they continued to exercise some level of authority in Florence, regardless of the state of their finances. However, with their banking interests placed on the backburner the family began to put even more focus on their winemaking, building upon the reputation that they had earned during the Renaissance era.
In fact, Niccolo Antinori obtained the title of Marchese in 1861 for his work in regards to the unification of Italy, and it is perhaps no surprise that it was only a couple of decades later that the family’s wine business became their main focus.
The family built a particular reputation for their work with Chianti, which started in earnest when Piero Antinori purchased a number of vineyards in the Chianti Classico region. They caused a stir early one by producing a version of the drink that contained Bordeaux grape varieties, which hinted at the innovative and experimental side that was to be the driving force behind their biggest creation.
In 1971, the family released their special Tignanello, which was a Chianti unlike any other. Traditionalists poured scorn on the drink, claiming that it went against everything that Chianti stood for, and the DOC refused to give it their seal of approval.
The family ploughed on though, confident in the quality of their wine. This confidence paid off when the drink exploded in popularity, particularly overseas where the fruitier composition appealed more to an international palette.
The revolution was so all-encompassing that even the DOC eventually had to bow and altered their rules to allow the newly christened Super Tuscans to be granted certification.
In fact, they have become so popular in recent years that many people forget that the Antinori’s also produce a number of other high quality red wines.
It is probably no surprise that the Antinori family specialises in red wines in general, and in the Antinori Braccesca Syrah Bramasole 2009 they have created a wine of such enormous quality that it can be placed up against the best of the Super Tuscans to come from the family.
Featuring a deep red colouring that has flashes of violet shading, the wine has intense aromas that captivate the drinker before they even taste a single drop. Hints of vanilla mix with the wonderful fruits that can be detected, but it is in the taste that the true quality and complexity of the wine comes to the fore.
The Antinori Braccesca Syrah Bramasole 2009 is perfectly balanced, featuring strong notes of red fruits and white plum that seem to work in harmony, with neither ever overpowering the other on the palette.
This leads to a wonderful aftertaste that is both long-lasting and delicate, making the wine the perfect accompaniment to rich meat dishes. Simply put, it is the perfect wine to explore if you want to see what the Antinori family can do outside of Chianti and Tignanello.