A mixed bag from Antinori
I’ve always thought of Antinori as being a little like Penfolds – ubiquitous in the local market (for Antinori that is Italy) and with a reputation for quality, if not always that much excitement, and both rooted in old world wine tradition (Antinori in Tuscany, Penfolds in Magill/Barossa).
Where Antinori and Penfolds split, however, is that the former is a network of individual wineries linked under common family rule, while the latter is one publically listed winery (or part of a publically listed wine business) drawing from vineyards all over the countryside.
In turn, while there is varied personalities (and vintage variation) within Antinori’s different sites, there is homogeneity within Penfolds (for good or bad).
As a result I went into this Antinori masterclass looking for a little character, acknowledging that ‘big company’ constrictions might mean quite conventional wines, but also with a little personality.
To be honest, I was quite disappointed.
Not for a lack of character – there was plenty of that – but just some clumsy winemaking. Clumsy winemaking, at prices where clumsy winemaking is just not good enough. Obviously our draconian Australian wine taxation doesn’t help those prices (40% tax is just the start), yet still these looked rather plain given the dollars.
In the same breath, that 2010 Solaia is a stunning wine, and this lineup included some average vintages (which didn’t help anyone). Still, I was expecting more and indeed a cursory glance at a few Prunotto Barbaresco on the way out didn’t help either (the ’11 was particularly thin given the vintage acclaim).
Anyway, if there was one bright spot about this tasting it was Jacopo Pandolfini from Antinori, who (replete in coloured Italian jeans) threw out so many funny quotes that I couldn’t keep up. Kicking off with this:
‘The first thing we do is sell the wine in the area around the winery, then Italy, then we export. If you find a restaurant without our wines maybe they haven’t paid the bill, or they hate us’.
Or this pearler:
‘This year we had lots of rain in July and August and just last week some hail. I’m sure that in three years I’ll still be coming out here and telling you it’s great’
But back to the wines – these notes were written at speed, with a lingering smell of paint in the background. Extra bits and Jacopo quotes in italics. Prices are RRP in $AUD.
Castello Della Sala Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay IGT 2013 $35
Banana ferment notes still hanging around, this has a spiciness, though not quite from oak alone over a quite conventional, light if slightly spiky finish. Pleasant and texturally fresh, but unremarkable lightly oaked Chardonnay. 16.8/20, 89/100
Banana and melon. Cashew oak a big part of this wine, oak to finish. Just a bit stodgy and full through the middle but has persistence and length. 17.5/20, 91/100
Another meaty and old fashioned style (from a very ordinary vintage). Gruff tannins, but rescued by a degree of sophistication and some cherry fruit. The tannins are less raw and more fine and sophisticated here compared to the Chianti – it feels a more noble wine. The edges are rough, but the heart is classical. 17.5/20, 91/100+
‘IGT just means freestyle’. 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cab Franc. Challenging vintage with heatwave conditions after a very cool start. 12-14 months in barrel.
pretty red colour. The oak sticks out here but the beauty of the
flavour is distinctive. Really quite vibrant and pretty, the wine
building through the gruff and meaty finish. Surprisingly gentle and
gentil tannins for Tig. What a departure in style though – the
oak throttled back, replaced with a hint of leaf and a prettiness.
Perhaps not the longest living Tignanello but I didn’t mind this. 18/20, 93/100+