Cellar notes #43: Antinori's greatest hits

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Tignanello is an estate, a 47-hectare vineyard and a wine, probably Antinori's most famous Tuscan red (although Solaia, a Bordeaux-style blend, is the more expensive).

Tignanello is an estate, a 47-hectare vineyard and a wine, probably Antinori's most famous Tuscan red (although Solaia, a Bordeaux-style blend, is the more expensive). The estate has been in the Antinori family since the 19th century, but in 1971 Piero Antinori stunned Italy by blending cabernet sauvignon with sangiovese to create the seminal "supertuscan", Tignanello. By flouting the DOC regulations, Tignanello was one of the first wines to break the mould and lead to the greater flexibility that exists within chianti today. Chianti now can be made with the addition of a proportion of cabernet sauvignon or even with 100 per cent sangiovese, the local Tuscan grape.

The 2000 Tignanello (£34.99-£39.99, Majestic, Harrods, Tanners of Shrewsbury, 01743 234455), is a blend of four-fifths sangiovese and one-fifth cabernet sauvignon. It is aromatic, a little denser and richer than Antinori's other reserve chiantis, with sour cherry richness balanced by firm acidity, smooth tannins and New World-style spicy oak.

Two of my current favourite Antinoris are the 1999 Tenute Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Reserva (£14.99, Waitrose), a cherryish red with a dollop of cabernet sauvignon, and Badia a Passignano, aged in the vast cellars of the medieval monastery at Passignano. The 2000 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva (around £18.99, Wine Barrels, 020-7228 3306; Berkmann Wine Cellars, 020-7609 4711), is a pure sangiovese brimming with super-ripe black cherry and rounded out with spicy oak.

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