Piero Antinori, precursor of the ‘Renaissance’ of Tuscan wines
The father of top performing wines like the Tignarello and the Solaia
Piero Antinori is the 26th generation member of a historical family that has been producing wine since 1385. A skilled entrepreneur and the precursor of the new Tuscan viticulture program, during the 50 years he has worked at the Marchesi Antinori wine company he contributed to an expansion of the land area used for grape growing, from 50 to 20,000 hectares, producing top performing wines like the Tignarello and the Solaia
When you took the leadership of the Marchesi Antinori company in 1966, what kind of situation did you have to face?
The share-cropping system was just abolished, so we had to change our system of agriculture and implement the concept of entrepreneurial risk, which had never been present in this sector before.
Everything changed so quickly, we started to construct specialized vineyards, but the quality of the vine cuttings was low because nurseries are limited and do not offer an endless number of plants. So the new vineyards couldn’t produce wines that were not suitable for aging. This decline in quality rapidly affected the volume of sales and our name, as well.
And the Tignanello was the final result of this new productive approach?
1971 was the first year of production, though it first made its official debut in 1974: it was a controversial, nonconformist wine; we hesitated to produce it, we didn’t know whether it would be accepted, but Veronelli persuaded us: “just don’t give up, it will be a great wine”.
Why has it been so important?
It has been the first wine to mark the passage from a production based on quantity to a production based on quality, showing the extraordinary potential of Tuscany in this sector.
How are Tuscan wines perceived on International markets?
Foreign customers look for quality, but also for wines that evoke a world of escape and unique sensations. This is a communicative wine, and it is supported by the name “Toscana”, a name we should not only take advantage of, I guess, but learn to manage and cultivate wisely, starting by taking care of its landscapes that are unique in the world. The new Cantina Antinori in Bargino, that would be the envy of many wine makers from all over the world, fits well in this perspective..
We really liked the idea that the building would be harmonically integrated into the landscape, innovative but also in line with the Tuscan tradition. I hope it will never go out of fashion, like our old farmhouses whose fascination and solid structures havn’t altered even after centuries.