The Antinori Family

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There are many wine companies in Italy that Xtrawine works to provide extra exposure for. They are companies that many consumers outside of their local areas would never have even heard of without the benefit of online shopping and are capable of providing some truly spectacular wines that are a feast for the senses.

Then there are companies that need little in the way of introduction. Perhaps amongst the most well-known of these is the Antinori family, which has been a force in the world of Italian wine, and overall Italian culture, for centuries. Here we will be recapping the story of the family and taking a look at what may be its most famous creation.

The History

The story of the Antinori family starts in the 12th century, with records showing that Runiccio di Antinori was making wine at the Castello di Combiate, which is near the Tuscan town of Calenzano, from 1180. In this time, the family had yet to build any sort of reputation for the craft and it was merely a hobby for Runiccio that came to an abrupt halt when the Castello was destroyed in 1202.

This led to the move to Florence that would put the Antinori’s onto the road to the fame and fortune that they have enjoyed for so many years. The family officially joined the Guild of Winemakers in 1385, after establishing themselves in the banking and silk weaving trades, and the Antinori family name that so many have come to recognize in the modern day as established.

Over the years that followed, the family’s fame, particularly in regards to the quality of its wines, continued to expand. This allowed them to be able to purchase the Palazzo Antinori in 1506 and helped to make Alessandro Antinori one of the richest men in all of Florence. Unfortunately, this fortune was eventually dashed due to the efforts of Charles V of Spain in bringing New World gold back to Europe following the discovery of the Americas. However, the family’s talents soon allowed for them to start prospering again once the volatile economy had settled down once more and they gained the title of Marquis from the House of Habsburg-Lorraine in the 18th century, further highlighting their expanding influence.

However, as surprising as it may seem, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 20th century that the family began working on the wine that is perhaps now most closely associated with them. It was in 1900 that Piero Antinori made the decision to purchase a number of vineyards in the Chianti Classico region, including 47 hectares in Tignanello.

The family quickly began building a reputation for experimenting with the established Chianti formula, with Piero’s son Niccolo causing a stir in Tuscany in the 1920s when he made a Chianti that contained Bordeaux grape varieties. Undeterred, he continued to experiment over the following years, testing new blends, barrels and temperatures while also looking into the complexities of bottle aging.

It was a spirit for innovation that his son would inherit and Piero took over the vineyards upon Niccolo’s retirement in 1966. He quickly set about investigating different types of barrique, alongside the use of stainless steel vats and early harvesting techniques for white grapes.

It was this period of innovation that made the Antinori one of the most exciting, yet divisive, winemakers in all of Italy. Those who were already uncomfortable with the fact that the family seemed so ready to break with many of the traditions of the industry, some of which the Antinoris had helped to create, would soon be rocked by the introduction of a wine that sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Antinori Tignanello 2012

Before we take a look at the specific vintage that we have chosen to highlight today, we feel that a small recap of the story of Tignanello is in order. This is not, after all, just another wine. Instead, Tignanello is the wine that helped to spark a revolution in the way that Chianti can be made, causing uproar amongst the community and forcing the DOC to change its tune to allow for the wine to be officially classified.

Launched in 1971, Tignanello was a barrique-aged wine that contained Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which made it immediately ineligible for the Chianti Classico designation. This unique mix of blends quickly began ruffling feathers, with lovers of classic Chianti in particular taking offense to it. It also helped the birth the ‘Super Tuscan’ movement, which led to a number of other wine producers in the area following suit and experimenting more with their Chianti.

Today, the enormous popularity of the wine, which is due entirely to its quality rather than the name that is attached to it, has resulted in the DOC changing its ruled solely so that the wine can be included in the Chianti Classico distinction. Despite this, the Antinori family has chosen to allow the wine’s own quality do the talking, leaving it to continue being classed as an IGT wine, continuing to fly in the face of tradition in the process.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2012 vintage and find out just why it is of such high quality.

The wine features the intense an alluring ruby red colouring that Tignanello has come to be known for, demonstrating the Antinori family’s willingness to experiment with the blend by using as few white grapes as possible.

When brought to the nose, the wine offers a wonderfully complex bouquet that provides hints of black berry fruits mixed in with interesting notes of chocolate and coffee that create a mix that is truly a delight for the senses.

Finally, the palate is everything that you may expect from such a wonderful bouquet, offering a complex structure that mixes the many flavours you will experience together beautifully. Lingering hints of chocolate, coffee, marmalade and many other notes that stay with you long after you have consumed the mouthful, making this one of the most stylish and elegant wines that you may experience from one of the foremost Italian winemaking companies.

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