Lifestyle

Wines from Tuscany's Most Famous Family


Even as they have become a global powerhouse, Piero Antinori and his family continue to produce superb wines in many price ranges

No visit to Tuscany, nor any tasting of Tuscan wines, would be complete without looking at what one of Italy's great families accomplishes. Despite their enormous vineyard holdings and huge worldwide visibility, there is never any doubt about the quality of wines that emerge from Piero Antinori and his family. Following are some of his current releases from both the brilliant 2004 and very good 2005 vintages. These offerings range widely in price, with their renowned Solaia fetching an arm and a leg, but there are also some superb values in Chianti Classico as well as Antinori's Umbrian white wine, a chardonnay-and-grechetto blend called Castello della Sala. My thanks to Antonio Galloni, a top expert on Italian wines who works with me, for his reviews of these extraordinary wines. For information on availability in your area, please call Antinori's importer, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Woodinville, Wash. (425 415-3738).

88 points

2004 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico

Antinori's 2004 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico isn't one of the more inspired versions of Tuscany's famous dessert wine. While it offers up an attractive set of leather, caramel, roasted nuts, spices, and orange peel flavors, it doesn't have the complexity or personality to stand up to the finest wines being made today. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. $30/500ml

89 points

2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Badia a Passignano

The 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva from the Badia a Passignano property spent 14 months in small French oak barrels prior to being bottled. It is a richly flavored Chianti loaded with sweet dark fruit, smoke, licorice, and tobacco nuances. Made in an accessible yet generous style, it is sure to provide much pleasure over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: now-2014. $50

90 points

2005 Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala

The 2005 is an especially refined Cervaro della Sala from Castello della Sala, the Antinori family's Umbrian estate. A blend of 85% chardonnay and 15% grechetto, it reveals an elegant profile of sweet tropical fruit framed by finessed tannins and a lovely note of underlying minerality. Today the French oak is a little prominent but it should integrate into the wine in another year or so. Anticipated maturity: 2010-15. $43

91 points

2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Marchesi Antinori

Antinori's flagship Chianti, the 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Marchesi Antinori, reveals excellent depth, vibrancy, and freshness. Ripe black cherries, new leather, menthol, smoke, and wild herbs flow from this sweet, layered Chianti. The wine is approachable today but also has the tannic backbone and stuffing to ensure another decade or so of very fine drinking. It spent 14 months in small French oak barrels prior to being bottled. Anticipated maturity: 2009-19. $35

92 points

2005 Tignanello

Antinori's beautiful 2005 Tignanello possesses perfumed, well-articulated aromatics that meld into a soft, generous core of ripe red fruits. Smoke, mineral, tobacco, and spice overtones develop in the glass with air. This is a relatively slender Tignanello, and while it doesn't have the qualities of the superb 2004, it does have the balance to age gracefully for the next decade or so. Anticipated maturity: 2010-20. $110

93 points

2005 Solaia

The 2005 Solaia is elegant and refined, yet it remains incredibly primary. Still, it is hard not to admire the wine's layered expression of blue and black fruits. The oak is prominent, but the wine should come together with bottle age. The Solaia vineyard is one of the most unique terroirs in Italy, and this cuvée has a track record of developing beautifully in bottle, even in smaller vintages. It will be fascinating to follow this Solaia as it matures. Anticipated maturity: 2012-23. $280

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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