In the world of wine, one name is synonymous with Tuscan labels: Antinori. For more than six centuries, the Antinori family has been making wine under the sunny skies of Tuscany.
Giovanni di Piero Antinori started it all in 1385. Twenty-six generations later, with vineyards in the Tuscany and Umbria regions, Antinori wines are perfectly positioned to satisfy the palates of modern wine drinkers. Progressive thinking and enough passion to buck the system have put Antinori’s wines in a category all their own.
Take, for example, the Tenuta Tignanello, one of the first Chiantis to be aged in small oak barrels and to include nonpermitted varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. In punishment for altering the approved recipe for Chianti, Tignanello was not permitted by law to carry the Chianti DOCG rating on the label, relegating it to a simple table wine despite the wine’s high quality and hefty price tag.
But the Antinoris did not stop there. The family continues to experiment with grape cloning, growing methods and fermentation methods to improve quality while maintaining the characteristics of the growing region.
Among the best are the fruity white Orvieto, a specialty of the Umbria region made from a blend of native grapes such as Procanico, Grechetto and Verdello, as well as crisp whites crafted from Tuscany’s indigenous grape, Vermentino.
For reds, Villa Antinori is the namesake wine made from a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Interested in traditionally styled Chianti? Antinori has that covered too, with Peppoli Chianti Classico and Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva. Both wines are great partners for the dinner table and show well with grilled or baked meats in a red sauce.
Although risk-taking and innovation have been part of the Antinori heritage, the family’s commitment to quality wine has never wavered. For generations their passion for wine and love of the land has earned the family a special place in the Tuscan sun.
Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by some of Northeastern Ohio’s top tasters, the NEOenophiles, in selecting wine for this month’s Cellar Notes.
2005 Campogrande Orvieto Classico, Umbria, Italy ($12): Straw yellow, medium light in body with crisp acidity and a soft, fruity aroma. Stainless-steel fermentation results in a refreshing finish that pairs well with most starter courses.
2004 Antinori Santa Cristina Sangiovese Rosso Toscana, Italy ($10): Dry with a medium body and youthful aromas of unripe peach, honeysuckle, white peach, lime, mineral and herbs. Balanced wine with great acidity to pair with spring menus.
2005 Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Vermentino di Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy ($23): Dry and medium in body with aromatic citrus, floral and peach pit aromas and a hint of mineral. Great winter white for savory seafood dishes and most chicken preparations.
2002 Villa Antinori, Tuscany, Italy ($24): Dark and dense with velvety, ripe tannins and medium acidity. Intense black cherry, tobacco, chocolate and toasty cedar aromas result in a long smooth finish.
2003 Marchese Antinori, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy ($33): Dark ruby red, full-bodied with crisp acidity and lots of black cherry and spice.
2000 Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Tuscany, Italy ($86): Dark and full-bodied with bright juicy aromas of cassis and black cherry. Soft ripe tannins supported by medium alcohol and medium acidity provides a long velvety finish.