Saturday, October 1, 2011

Marchesi Antinori Villa Antinori (2007)

Twenty six generations stand behind Marchesi Antinori, a well established winemaker in Italy.  The family has lived in Florence, Tuscany since the 13th century and has been producing wine in Tuscany since the 16th century.  For more than five hundred years, the Antinori family has grown to a winery that has six estates throughout Tuscany and produces a wide range of red and white wines.

One of those wines is the Villa Antinori.  According to the winemaker, the Villa Antinori was first produced in 1928, when Marquis Niccolo Antinori sought to produce a Chianti wine that could age well over time.  The Villa Antinori was produced originally as a Chianti Classico, which meant that all of the grapes had to come from a specifically delinated region of the Chianti valley.  The winemaker eventually transformed the Villa Antinori into an IGT, which permits Antinori to use grapes from any of its estates in Tuscany.
Walking toward Badia a Passignano
The Villa Antinori has a special meaning for me.  A little more than five years ago, I was walking toward Badia a Passignano, a small abbey in the Chianti region.  Badia a Passignano is an abbey that dates back to 890 A.D.  For centuries, it was the residence of Benedictine monks.  I can still picture myself, standing outside a large door of the abbey, waiting to walk into the cellars where, today, Antinori houses its wines for aging.  As we walked through rather dark rooms, with barrels stacked on top of each other, I was amazed by the fact that I was walking in a building that had been around for more than 1,200 years.

Can you find the "Pope chute"?
Every aspect of Badia a Passignano was amazing.  The lighting for the cellars consisted of lights placed in what are commonly referred to as "Pope chutes."  These were concealed holes in the upper floor where the monks would drop down into the cellar and blockade themselves when the abbey was attacked.

Today, the only thing barricaded in the cellar are the barrels of wine.  Lots of barrels.  Filled with some amazing wine.  After a tour of the abbey, we went to the estate where Antinori hosts groups for wine dinners.  We had an amazing dinner paired with four different Antinori wines, including the Villa Antinori.

As an IGT, the Villa Antinori is a blend.  The approximate percentages are 55% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Syrah.  Winemakers have worked blends like the Villa Antinori well, labeling them as "Super Tuscans."  This label refers to any red wine that does not adhere to the requirements of a DOC or DOCG, such as Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. 

The Villa Antinori pours a dark crimson or ruby red in color. For a 2007 vintage, the wine has a nice ring along the edges that properly shows its age.  The aromatic elements of this wine are mix of dark cherry and blueberry, with a little earth and spice.  For me, Sangiovese wines showcase the dark cherry aromas extremely well.  Indeed, Sangiovese wines, like true Chianti wines, are the perfect expression of dark cherry.  The flavors of this wine are definitely dark cherry, with blueberry in the background and earth on the finish.

I have seen the Villa Antinori at a lot of wine stores and grocery stores.  It sells for about $20 to $22 a bottle.


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