I googled Tignanello this afternoon while on the hunt for some information about alcohol percentage (didn’t learn much), and discovered that the name is better known as a handbag brand than as a wine label.
I’m so out of the (leather goods) loop!
Tignanello, the wine, is one of the original ‘Super Tuscans’, and effectively the flagship Antinori red. It’s also my favourite of the family’s wines (by a fair margin), which is handy given Tignanello was the main feature at the recent Working With Wine seminar.
Albiera Antinori, the Antinori Vice-President, was on hand to give context, and more than welcome too. Again, Negociants go out of their way to bring great top-shelf wines – plus their makers – for this program, and kudos to them for it.
According to Albiera, it’s best to start in the 60s to understand the Tignanello story.
‘Italy had just come out of the share cropping era’ she said, ‘the wines were not travelling well, and they were full of white wine’
Back then, the ageing was all in very large oak casks and maturation lengthy, which didn’t help for oxidation and tannin management. Newer oak, in particular made a big difference.
‘Thinking about it today it (the choice of newer oak) seems obvious, back then it was not.’ said Albiera.
The (unofficial) first vintage of Tignanello was 1970, and the first official in 1971. Immediately the wine made an impact:
‘It made a lot of noise. It showed that wines could be of a different standing, a different texture, without losing the Tuscan character.’ believes Albiera.
Designated an IGT Toscana since the mid-70s, Tignanello is based around a 47ha vineyard acquired in 1900. The plot itself lies within the Santa Cristina estate (known as Tenuta Tignanello) and sits at 350-400m altitude.
Interestingly, Tignanello could now be classed as a Chianti Classico as the blend now fits the appellation. Since 1982, the grape mix has been circa 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet and 5% Cabernet Franc.
Albiera considers the ’97 to be one of the most famous, particularly as 97 Solaia was a big winner. I’ve previously enjoyed the 2010, but if this vertical shows anything, it is that Tignanello needs at least a decade. Perhaps the only quibble is that the oak can be a little too toasty in some vintages.
My notes are as written on the day.
Antinori Tignanello 2013
Red meat meets vanilla oak. There is some Hungarian oak used here, as the family have a ‘barrel factory’ in Hungary. Circa 50% new oak, which is more than older vintages (which had closer to one-third new oak). Not released in Australia yet. Oak is just a bit dominant here, but it can’t cover the firm red cherry fruit – this seems very pretty and elegant, all cherry kernel. Juice even! Tannins seem quite light here though – they’re fine and tight, if still really contained. Tannins are really light in the lineup, though quite silky. Maybe just a little warm and bitter on the back palate, the alcohol sticking out too. Very pretty, but is it classic? Hard to tell now, and just a bit disjointed. 17.8/20, 92/100+
Antinori Tignanello 2010
More mature and the black, molasses and black fruit style seems more settled. Still very much oak dominant, though the black olive, bitter fruit has filled in more crannies. Mega tight and quite bitter. Chinnoto bitter. Good bitter! Those tannins are heroic. Life affirming. Really! Oak tannins in there too, but such a frame! It’s going to live forever and it’s quite a challenge to drink now, such is the force and impact. That length! 18.7/20, 95/100+
Antinori Tignanello 2007
Finally some drinkability. Dark red and darker than the ’10. Brown sugar toasty oak, now supported by leather, slow cooked beef and grainy tannins. It’s a rich style, it feels like a warm year wine, but the extract looks like it has been dialled back a bit compared to the 05. Acidity looks better balanced too. Long and tasty, though still has some of that ‘palate attack’ quality that suggests it will need years. Very serious. 18/20, 93/100+
Antinori Tignanello 2005
Deep red with just a little tawny on the edge. Caramelised beef, the flavour just beginning to turn secondary, if still black and coffee edged. I actually quite like this – it seems spicy, cool, black. But it was clearly a big wine in its youth. Fully resolved. High quality and the only ready wine so far, but maybe a bit heavy and caramelised of the line. 18/20, 93/100.
Antinori Tignanello 2001
Tawny edges growing. So meaty! Lovely complex riot of a nose. The palate feels fully mature. So long and that caramel oak seems fully integrated, an impressive flow of black fruit, soy and balsamic. What a wine! Long and mega black fruit, mega tannins and so long. It’s a wall of wine, the very epitome of a rich super Tuscan. In the perfect window methinks. 18.9/20, 96/100.
Antinori Tignanello 1997
Colour falling away from the edges, just a little brown edge. A little bit corky? I was less impressed by this compared to some of the others in the room. It feels elegant and fully resolved, the tannins still resounding. Nice wine, but is this a perfect bottle. 17/20, 90/100.
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