Each week the team at Xtrawine take the time to focus on a producer and one of their best wines I an effort to expose more experience wine drinkers to vintages that they may not be aware of, in addition to providing a little bit more information about the industry and all of its players to those who are just discovering the remarkable world of Italian wine.
This week, we will be returning to an old favourite in the Antinori family, however, this time around there is a little bit of a twist. In addition to recapping some of the oft-told story relating to this most famous of wine families, we will also be taking a look at one of the company’s offshoots to demonstrate their continued desire to innovate and provider consumers with something different, despite being so well-established at this point that their place in the market is practically guaranteed for a long time to come.
As such, this week we will be examining the Montenisa estate, which has built a strong reputation of its own, with the help of the Antinori family that is so ingrained into the history and culture of Italian wine.
By now we are sure that you’re all aware of the story of the Antinori family. They have a winemaking history that extends back to the twelfth century, though it wasn’t until 1385 that they joined the Guild of Winemakers and began cementing the legacy that would make them so revered in the centuries that followed.
During the course of Italian history, the Antinori family has been practically ever-present. Not only have they established a reputation as one of the world’s foremost purveyors of fine wines, but many of the members of the family have been instrumental in the development of a number of other Italian industries at various points in time, such as the silk weaving and banking sectors. Furthermore, some of the members of the family have also been closely intertwined with Italian politics and it is no stretch to say that their influence has helped to shape the culture and history of this great nation.
It is a well-told story that has already been recapped, in various forms, on the Xtrawine website. As such, instead of rehashing it again, we have decided to take a look at one of the family’s most recent contributions to the Italian wine industry. Their formation of the Montenisa estate added another string to the bow of the Antinori’s, allowing them to experiment with other types of wine that may have traditionally fallen outside of the comfort zone that they have established for themselves over the years.
Founded in the year 2000, the Montenisa estate can be said to emulate the new beginnings that were promised by the passing of the new millennium. Located to the south of the lake of Iseo, the Antinori’s demonstrated their impeccable knowledge of winemaking by ensuring that the estate was located in one of the most geo-climatically favourable locations for winemaking in the entire Franciacorta region.
Consisting of sixty hectares of vineyards, the Montenisa estate was set up for success from the start, deriving strength from the vast experience offered by the Antinori’s so that the wines from the vineyard quickly began to develop popularity.
The location itself, as you may expect, is also absolutely stunning and is in keeping with the rich history that the family has already forged. A group of old buildings dot the landscape, many of which are now being used as cellars for the wines that are made at the estate. The most important of these buildings is probably the magnificent Palazzetto Maggi, which was built in the sixteenth century and is located between two large courtyards on the estate. This makes the estate immediately attractive to wine tourists and those who have an appreciation of classic Italian architecture. Furthermore, art-loves will be delighted by the frescoes located at the Palazzetto, all of which were created by famed Brescian painter Lattanzio Gambara in the 1500s.
To cap it all off, the estate is also overlooked by the gorgeous little Church of Santo Stefano, which is perched on the hill of the same nave that overlooks the town that is near the estate. This church also belongs to the estate and carries with it a winemaking history all of its own. Surrounded by ancient vineyards, the church is capable of inspiring awe in visitors, despite its small stature, thanks to its thousand-year old design. Built in the Greek-cross style that many ancient churches adhered to, the church is also the burial ground for many members of the noble Calini family and is a wonderful place to visit for those who want to get in touch with their spiritual sides.
Of course, all of this would mean nothing if the estate wasn’t capable of producing some truly wonderful wines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Antinori family come through with flying colours in this regard, no doubt inspired by the wonderful location of the estate. With that in mind, here we will take a look at one of the best recent wines to emerge from Montenisa.
This beautiful sparkling white wine is a far cry from the Chianti’s and Super Tuscans that the Antinori family are perhaps best known for, but it also represents the company’s dedication to continued innovation and evolution.
Featuring a gorgeous pale gold colouring that offers an instant glimpse into what you will experience when you open the bottle, this wine is as much a feast for the eyes as it is to the taste.
Upon opening it, you will enjoy a beautifully fresh bouquet that bring prevailing notes of yellow fruits together with just a hint of bread crust to add a slightly more savoury aspect to the wine that is sure to be enjoyed by those who usually turn their nose up at sweetness in their wines.
This freshness is carried through to the taste, with the wine offering a gorgeous lightness that means it can be easily consumed at practically any point of the day. Though likely most popular as an aperitif, the wine also makes an excellent complement to fish dishes, displaying a level of versatility that you may not expect from a dry sparkling white.