About this WINE
Antinori is the most famous name in Italian wine and the influence of Piero Antinori in the last 25 years has been nothing short of revolutionary. Antinori's flagship wine, Tignanello, first appeared in 1971 and caused a sensation by its use of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Sangiovese blend and with its practice of ageing in small French barriques. Antinori was accused of vinous treachery and treason but soon barrique-aged blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet began appearing all across Tuscany.
Solaia is a Cabernet-dominated blend, which, like Tignanello, is from the Santa Cristina estate and is stunningly rich. Tenuta Belvedere is in Bolgheri on the Mediterranean coast .
The Guado al Tasso estate is also part of the small, prestigious Bolgheri DOC zone which has been famous for its Rosé wines since the Seventies: along with the white wines made here, they were awarded the DOC in 1984, which was extended to the reds in 1994. The area is now best-known and admired for its outstanding red wines, the so-called Super-Tuscans. The estate covers over 1,000 hectares, 300 of which are planted with vineyards, and the rest with wheat, sunflowers and olives
Tenuta Guado al Tasso was part of feudal lands of about 4,048 hectares along about 7km of coast and belonged to the Della Gherardesca family, whose roots in this region date back to over 1,200 years ago. In the Thirties the land was inherited by Carlotta della Gherardesca Antinori - mother of Piero Antinori - and her sister, who was married to Mario Incisa della Rocchetta (who took possession of the nearby Tenuta San Guido). There were seven castles on the estate, four of which are still standing, and 86 watchtowers, built 1000 years ago to protect the family from Saracen invaders from the African coast.
There are currently 300 hectares of vineyards at Tenuta Guado al Tasso, situated at an altitude of 45-60m a.s.l. on various types of soil. The varieties planted are Vermentino (a grape variety native to the coastal area of Liguria and northern Tuscany, which has also flourished for many years in Corsica and Sardinia), Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. There are also small quantities of other varieties including Cabernet Franc.
Many ideas and resources have been invested in the Guado al Tasso estate, for constant research into improved quality: as a result, a nursery for rooted cuttings was created here in 1994, mainly for the propagation of Vermentino, but also to produce the best possible selections of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for use in other Antinori estates.
The mitigating influence of the Mediterranean prevents drastic temperature variations and the vines flower and ripen early, thanks to the stable, fairly warm microclimate with its extraordinary light during the final phases of ripening. Thanks to the microclimate of the "Bolgheri amphitheatre", harvesting takes place early here, about two weeks before the Chianti harvest.
The Guado al Tasso estate makes Scalabrone (Bolgheri Rosato DOC) from Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah, Vermentino di Bolgheri DOC, a monovarietal Vermentino (made for the first time in 1996) and since 1990, the Guado al Tasso Bolgheri DOC Superiore from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
The state of Umbria produces only approximately 35% (1 million hl) of its neighbour Tuscany, one of Italy's smallest wine production regions. Orvieto white and Sagrantino red are the region's most renowned wines. Its interior, land-locked location brings a deep continental climate with summer temperatures often touching 40 celsius. The spectacular Apennine backdrop brings vineyard elevation, especially round Montefalco, as well as a variety of soils: deep sandy calcareous clays around Orvieto and finer free-draining stony soils in the best Montefalco sites. During the Middle Ages the region was so famous for its sweet white Orvieto that its production was tax-exempt. A far cry from the mainly anonymous dry white version now bottled in large quantities, mainly by northern merchants; indeed of the 120 bottlers of Orvieto, only 25 are actually resident in the state. As recently as thirty years ago, Orvieto was rated more highly than either Soave or Verdicchio; now it is lagging far behind. Recent initiatives to increase the proportion of Grechetto ignores the importance of the better quality/smaller Trebbiano clone, Procanico, as a key component of top Orvieto. More important though has been the rise of the full-bodied dry/Secco red wine Sagrantino di Montefalco. First documented in 1549, the richly tannic Sagrantino grape was prized for its ability to produce sweet 'Passito' wines; the trend towards dry/Secco wines has only outstripped the sweet over the past 15 - 20 years. Lacking the infrastructure of its wealthier neighbour Tuscany, Umbria quickly fell behind, aggravated by Communism; it became a relatively poor agricultural state reliant upon cereal, sunflowers, olives and grapes. The olive oil issuing from the presses of Trevi and Spoletto is considered among Italy's finest and they refer to its elixir in exulted tones. The centuries old trees claim the best, stoniest, sunniest sites, while the more recent newcomers, grapes, often have to contend with the deeper clay soils lower down. Since being awarded the DOCG status in 1992 (in an attempt to kick-start the potential) the number of wineries making Sagrantino di Montefalco has rocketed: rising from 15 in 2000 to 42 (a total of 660 ha) in 2008. Many seek to ape the commercial American success enjoyed by Arnaldo Caprai, employing consultants to push the grapes to even darker, more extracted & alcoholic levels. While this might suit American scribes, the wine's natural balance and long-term ageability is called into question. Added to which a vineyard's very best fruit is still often reserved for the production of 'Passitio'. Sagrantino di Montefalco has one of the lowest maximum yields at 48 hl/ha and must be aged for 30 months pre-release, of which 12 mths must be in wood - increasingly French barriques. Montefalco Rosso is an earlier drinking blend of Sangiovese (60-70%), Sagrantino (10-15%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (15-30%). Recent great vintages include 2008, 2007, 2005 & 1998; while 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000 were deemed good to very good.
Recommended Producers: Milziade Antano
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.