The history of the Tignanello wine can be traced back to the emergence of the ‘Super Tuscan’ variants of wine that were established fairly recently as a response from modern winemakers to those who wish to strictly adhere to more traditional techniques and methods.
The revolution, which took place in the 1970s and saw a slew of new wines introduced to the market, was one of the biggest events in the modern era of Italian winemaking and was sparked, in large part, by the Antinori family.
As such, Tignanello has become one of the signature wines from the family and is fast becoming one of the most popular wines in Italian culture.
As mentioned, Tignanello traces its roots to the Super Tuscan revolution of the 1970s but the Antinori family is actually much older. In fact, the family can trace its winemaking past all the way back to the 14th century, with many scholars believing the family began making wine in around1385 AD. This makes them one of the oldest wine producers in all of Italy and with that lineage comes a reputation for innovation and the production of amazing wines.
The Antinori family is part Primum Familiae Vini, which is an exclusive club of winemaking families that is limited to only twelve members at any one time. They are amongst the most exclusive wine producers in Italy and receiving membership into the group is a sure fire method of establishing that your production methods are mongst the best in the country.
The Antinori achieved this distinction through centuries of winemaking. Though early records show that Rinuccio di Antinori was making wine near the Tuscan town of Calenzano back in the late 12th century, it was not until 1385 when Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Guild of Winemakers that the family moved away from the silk and banking trades and began to firmly establish themselves as top quality winemakers.
As the years went on the wines produced by the Antinori family continued to increase in quality and renown, with the family in turn making plenty of money from their new venture. In 1506 they purchased the Palazzo Antinori for 4,000 florins thanks to proceeds from their winemaking, which had made the family one of the richest in Italy.
Unfortunately for the Antinori family, tough times were ahead as Charles V of Spain and his New World Gold practically bankrupted the family alongside many others. Thankfully, following a difficult period for many in Italy the Antinori family returned to doing what they do best, which in turn allowed them to return to prosperity and play a large role the unification of Italy into the country we now know today.
As the 20th century rolled around, members of the family were already looking to buck the longstanding trends that had been in place for centuries when it came to making wine. Following the purchase of several vineyards in the Chianti Classico region, Niccolo Antinori cause uproar in the Italian wine community when he created a Chianti that contained Bordeaux grape varieties.
This penchant for innovation followed Niccolo throughout his tenure as a winemaker and was passed on to his son Piero, who worked further to bring innovation to what he saw as a stagnating wine industry. He introduced a number of new innovations to the industry that revolutionised the way many people produced their wines. However, it was not until the 1970s that Piero and the Antinori family would leave their biggest mark on the modern industry.
In 1971 The Antinori family released Tignanello, which was amongst the first of the Super Tuscan wines, though many claim that it actually doesn’t fall under that designation. Tignanello differed from similar wines in that it contained Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This made it ineligible for the Chianti Classico appellation that is awarded by the DOCG.
This perceived slight did not sit well with the Antinori family and they continued forward with the new blend, eventually removing all traces of white grapes in 1975. With no classification to call its own, Tignanello continued to march on and gain popularity amongst Italian, which in turn led to a number of rule changes and reclassifications within the DOCG. These alterations made Tignanello eligible for classification however, in another act of defiance against tradition, the Antinori family continue to market the wine under the Toscana IGT label. Regardless, the release of Tignanello sparked something of a revolution in Italian winemaking and its influence is still felt today.
As Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to aged in barriques, it features a number of characteristics that separate it from other designations of Chianti. Its non-traditional blending, including the complete elimination of white grape varieties, has created a completely unique red wine that has fast become a favourite both domestically and internationally.
The wine is signified by an intense ruby red colouring that maintains some subtle noted of purple. It is fresh to the taste, with a number of notes of dark fruits being detectable, such as plums and cherries. Further notes of mint and liquorice refine the taste experience even further and creates a sublime balance of flavours that make it easy to see exactly why the wine helped to spark a revolution. An aromatic finish rounds the drink out, with a rich and savoury aftertaste providing a perfect counterbalance to the initial fruity flavours.
Due to its rich and intense flavours Tignanello is best consumed with a meat-heavy dish, particularly meats that have been roasted and come basted in a nice sauce. Favourites include roasted lamb and pork, as the fruity notes of the Tignanello act as a perfect counterpoint to the rich taste of the meat, while the savoury aftertaste acts as an ideal complement. This is a rich wine that is intended to be drunk with rich and high quality food so, for best effects, don’t simply drink it on its own. Instead, make sure to enjoy it with a good dish and truly appreciate why Tignanello was, and still is, a revolutionary wine.