The Australian - Wish Magazine - - DRINKING -

The beautiful and rolling green hills of Tus­cany have been a source of revered wines for thou­sands of years, with an­cient Greek in­vaders la­belling the area Enotris – Wineland. More than 2000 years ago the lo­cal wines were al­ready be­ing ex­ported across the seas in large clay am­phorae to France and be­yond.

With such a his­tory it comes as no sur­prise that many fam­i­lies mak­ing wine in Tus­cany to­day have a long and proud his­tory with the grapevine. Per­haps the most fa­mous of these is the Anti­noris, who first crafted Ital­ian wine in 1385, and have been do­ing so in Tus­cany for over 300 years.

For cen­turies the fam­ily’s busi­ness ef­forts were chiefly di­rected into silk, wool and bank­ing. It was only dur­ing chal­leng­ing times in the 1800s that the trad­ing and pro­duc­tion of wine be­came their main fo­cus. And dur­ing those times, as with many in what has for a long time been a craft and an in­dus­try ruled by his­tory and tra­di­tion, it was the fam­ily’s pa­tri­arch who man­aged the fam­ily’s legacy.

Piero Anti­nori, the last to take the reins in 1965, has done much to con­sol­i­date the po­si­tion of March­esi Anti­nori among Italy’s finest vint­ners, by re­tain­ing the tra­di­tions of his fore­fa­thers but ad­ding a lib­eral dose of in­no­va­tion. The Anti­nori wine busi­ness had for a long time in­volved buy­ing large vol­umes of fruit and wines to cre­ate generic lo­cal styles. But Piero was more in­ter­ested in the pur­suit of qual­ity and iden­ti­fy­ing the best vine­yards to cre­ate great and long-lived wines. To this end he bought more prime es­tates in Tus­cany to craft high-qual­ity re­gional wines. Piero then looked far­ther afield, buy­ing more es­tates across Italy in re­gions such as Pied­mont, Um­bria and Puglia be­fore in­vest­ing in Cal­i­for­nia’s Napa Val­ley and be­yond.

No doubt the great­est in­no­va­tion came with the launch of Tig­nanello, a wine named af­ter its sin­gle­o­ri­gin vine­yard in the heart of Chi­anti Clas­sico. Be­fore the ad­vent of the more in­ter­na­tional Tus­can style, or “Su­per Tus­can”, strict laws gov­erned all parts of lo­cal wine­mak­ing prac­tices, in­clud­ing the lim­it­ing of grapes to tra­di­tional, lo­cal va­ri­eties. While not the first Su­per Tus­can, Tig­nanello was made from a blend of the lo­cal San­giovese com­bined with in­ter­na­tional stal­warts caber­net franc and caber­net sau­vi­gnon aged in small French oak bar­rels.

Ini­tially highly con­tro­ver­sial, Tig­nanello did much to rede­fine Ital­ian wine and bring a new gen­er­a­tion to the ven­er­a­ble wines of Tus­cany.

But in later years Piero Anti­nori had a prob­lem. It was time to hand over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fam­ily firm to the next gen­er­a­tion, with the tra­di­tion be­ing, in this male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try, that a man from the fam­ily would be be­stowed with this hon­our. Blessed with three daugh­ters, Piero ig­nored the pa­tri­ar­chal tra­di­tions and chose his old­est daugh­ter Al­biera as the com­pany’s new vice pres­i­dent, while giv­ing her sis­ters Alessia and Al­le­gra prom­i­nent po­si­tions in the com­pany, man­ag­ing some of the wine busi­nesses out­side of Tus­cany plus the grow­ing num­ber of Can­tinetta Anti­nori restau­rants across Europe.

While at the helm of Anti­nori, Piero had spent much of his time break­ing bound­aries while ex­pand­ing the fam­ily em­pire through­out Tus­cany and around the world – es­tab­lish­ing the blue­print for a more global en­ter­prise. Al­biera and her sis­ters have a slightly dif­fer­ent vi­sion for the im­print of the 26th gen­er­a­tion of Anti­noris in­volved in the wine trade.

Rather than sig­nif­i­cantly grow their range of vine­yards Al­biera is keen to con­sol­i­date her fa­ther’s work by tak­ing the time and ef­fort to un­der­stand each of the var­i­ous vine­yards from where they source fruit.

“These places are all very dif­fer­ent, they are all unique,” she says. “This makes it very com­pli­cated – each plot of land has its own in­de­pen­dence.”

But the fam­ily’s in­no­va­tive streak is never far from the sur­face, with con­stant ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in the cur­rent vine­yards con­tin­u­ing in search of new syn­er­gies and op­por­tu­ni­ties as fa­ther Piero had done al­most 50 years ago with Tig­nanello. While the Anti­nori wines from Tus­cany re­main the cur­rent picks from the fam­ily sta­ble there is lit­tle doubt that over time Al­biera and her sis­ters will only serve to bring greater fame to the Anti­nori name through higher qual­ity wines from their var­i­ous es­tates.

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