Few wine regions of the world are as beautiful as Tuscany in northern Italy. The story-book landscape of rolling hills crowned by walled towns, vineyards and cypress-lined dust roads has defined the countryside surrounding the great Tuscan cities of Siena and Florence for centuries. This is Chianto Classico country: the historic wine-producing area where the indigenous sangiovese grape is grown and transformed into one of Italy’s most iconic reds — the eponymously named Chianti Classico, a full-blooded Tuscan wine that’s been cultivated since the 13th century.
No other local family is as entwined with the long history of Chianti Classico as the Antinoris of Tuscany. Currently on its 26th generation, the tenth oldest family owned company in the world continues to produce some of Italy’s most highly regarded Chianti Classico, including a superior selection of so-called Super Tuscans like Tignanello and Solaia. The family which still carries the noble title of marchesi is largely responsible for single-handedly reviving the prestige of Tuscan wines and viticulture after the local variety fell from grace in the second half of the last century—and I’ve booked an appointment with the Marchesa Allegra Antinori, one of the female heirs of the current patriarch, Piero Antinori, in their new winery in Chianti Classico. I aim to understand how the family’s connection to their land, and passion for good food and drink, have given the world some of the best Italian wines ever made.
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Though Allegra and her two sisters, Albiera and Alessia, can be credited for expanding the business, she never fails to credit their father, Piero, for his tireless vision. “My father was really the one that really built the company to how it is today. And turned it all around. So he was the one who had a vision. He was really the one that believed that different wines can be made, international wines can be made, better wines can be made. And it became the big moment for Italian wines, but my father was really the first one who had this braveness and the sense of vision.”
Despite Allegra’s food and hospitality business taking off, and the family’s expansive footprint of wine estates all over the world, the 26th generation of Antinoris isn’t about to take it easy and continue to look for ways to further the family’s legacy. “There is a big potential to make maybe another great Italian white wine, maybe in Champagne, maybe somewhere where we want to really take also a lot of our experience but also learn from the other ones also.”
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Cellar with French oak barriques.
A selection that includes one of the highly regarded Chianti Classico by the Antinoris, a 1971 Tignanello.
Chianti in straw baskets.
The landscape of the Chianto Classico.
The logo of the Marchesi Antonori in the winery's headquarters.
At the underground winery, modern vinification techniques include the doing away with pumps and motors.
The Rinuccio 1180, the outdoor restaurant named after the 12th century founder of the Antinori dynasty.
The tasting room was built by the Antinoris for guests.
Another view of the tasting room.
The state of the art winery is considered an architectural landmark in Italy.
Visitors are often surprised to realize that the vineyards they’re standing on are actually part of the tiered roofline of the winery.