Firenze is the perfect Italian city for your "classic" New York couple. The shopping, the food and the high energy can be felt from one side of the Ponte Vecchio to the other. New Yorkers are comfortable with these aspects of a city...they even expect it. But New York will never have the history, art and architecture Firenze has to offer. That is why you should be booking your next holiday there as soon as possible. But that's not the only reason why...
So you only have 5 days to eat, drink and sightsee to your heart's content...so what happens when you can only designate ONE day to wine country? How could you possibly choose just one winery to visit? I mean it's not everyday a New Yorker finds themselves within the rolling hills of Tuscany. Well, the answer is simple...you visit Antinori nel Chianti Classico in Bargino.
A powerhouse in the wine industry and probably the most distributed Italian wine in the US, Antinori's story dates all the way back to 1385 and has pressed on for 26 generations. Upon rolling up to the property you are met with extreme modern architecture amongst the traditional landscape of Chianti. This idea of innovation while still respecting tradition is a common theme found within every aspect of the winery itself. It was important to Marchesi Piero Antinori and his daughters Albiera, Allegra and Alessia that the newly built winery still be connected to their ancestral land through locally sourced materials. The structure maximizes energy while having a low impact on the environment.
Our tour started in a beautiful viewing room (basically a mini movie theater) so we could get a solid base of the family's history. After seeing all the sleek modern lines of the winery, I thought it was really important for the visitors to get a feel for Antinori's heritage. Listening to Marchesi Antinori speak about family, passion and dedication to quality gave the group a real sense of pride to be sitting within those walls.
The tour then took us through the maturation room, fermentation room and even to where their olive oils are made. We were able to explore the older, more traditional materials and tools used which were on display next to the modern machines used now. We even got to learn a little bit about the Antinori Art Project which is an initiative to keep the tradition of art collecting (something the family has always pursued), but with displaying more contemporary art meant to compliment the aesthetic of the structure.
Now...onto the tasting!
We tried one white and two reds:
1. San Giovanni Della Sala; Orvieto DOC
This blend of Grechetto, Procanico, Pinot Bianco and Viognier was pale lemon in color with a hint of green. The nose boasted of dried apricot, pineapple and white blossoms. On the palate I found lychee, orange blossom and white hydrangea with high acidity. This wine is perfect for an aperitivo and would be a low risk white to serve at a party.
2. Villa Antinori; Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva
This is a staple and historical wine within Antinori's collection dating back to 1928 AND my personal favorite of the tasting. The color was a lush ruby with black cherry, vanilla and licorice on the nose. I found the palate to be medium body, high acid, with notes of leather, raspberry and more black cherry. This wine would be perfect for anything with a tomato sauce base, veal and beef.
3. Bramasole; Cortona DOC Syrah
The most full body of the group and the wine that definitely needs time to age, this Syrah from the La Braccesca estate was deep ruby in color with blackberry, black pepper and leather on the nose. The palate was a bit smokey with more black pepper spice, black currant and traces of cacao. I would definitely pair this with a big juicy steak!
Cristine, our awesome host and tour guide, was very generous with second pours of our favorites before we concluded the formal part of our day. Although the tour was finished, my personal day was not. We drifted over to the tasting bar where you can try top level wines from their other Estates. It was there that I tried the coveted Tignanello and Solaia. Want a full glass of these luxurious wines? No problem. You can head up to the wine bar on the other side of the dining area and sit outside with your glass amongst the vines. Although we did not have lunch on the property, I would highly recommend making a reservation...the views are breathtaking!
So there you have it. If you're looking for a wine experience that embodies history, family, passion, innovation, quality, art and architecture, Antinori nel Chianti Classico is where you should spend your day. And don't worry, the incredible wines will help you manage all of that sensory overload!