Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Antinori Tignanello, Toscana IGT (2008)

Antinori’s Tignanello is one of the most iconic wines to be produced in Tuscany and indeed the whole of Italy.

Produced by the esteemed Antinori family, who have now been crafting wine across Italy (and now the world) for 26 generations, Tignanello began a revolution in Tuscany when it was first released as a single vineyard wine from the vineyard of the same name in 1970. Believed to be the first Sangiovese-based wine from Chianti that was aged in small oak barrels, the first red wine from Chianti to use “non-tradtional” grape varieties in the blend (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon) and amongst the first wines from Chianti not to include white grapes in the blend, Tignanello truly was a revolutionary wine.

In producing Tignanello for the first time in 1970 the Antinori family gave birth to a whole new genre of Tuscan wines (the “super Tuscans”) and Tignanello remains one of the best known of these wines today.

47 hectares in size and 350-400 metres above sea-level, since 1982 the Tignanello vineyard has provided a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with which to craft this wine. Rigorous management of the yield of the vines in the Tignanello vineyard ensure that only the highest quality grapes make their way into Antinori’s Tignanello and Tignanello is only made in the best vintages (Tignanello was not made in seven vintages between 1970 and 2008).

The 2008 vintage at the Tignanello vineyard saw very favourable weather conditions during harvest time – a factor which allowed several passes to be made through the Tignanello vineyard to ensure that all grapes picked were perfectly mature. A further analysis of these grapes destined for Tignanello was then made at the Antinori winery, with only the best individual berries from the Tignanello vineyard making their way into the Tignanello wine.

Fermentation of this 2008 Tignanello was temperature controlled to a maximum of 31C in order to retain varietal character and aroma. Once the initial fermentation of this 2008 Tignanello was over, this 2008 Tignanello was then passed into small (300 & 225 litre capacity – some new) oak barrels. Here malolactic fermentation occurred (ending January 2009), with this 2008 Tignanello then spending a further twelve months in these barrels to mature. Bottled (following another quality check), this 2008 Tignanello was then held at the Antinori cellars for another 12 months prior to release.

In the glass, this 2008 Tignanello is an intense ruby red colour. Darker in colour and more intense than more traditional Chianti, part of the reason for this will be the influence of the dark coloured and thick skinned Cabernet Sauvignon component of this 2008 Tignanello. On swirling, the legs of this 2008 Tignanello are moderate and indicate an alcoholic content of 13.5% abv.

Aromatically, this 2008 Tignanello is pronounced and shows intense aromas of red and black fruit, along with a touch of oak. Red cherries and darker blackberry notes dominate, although vanilla and tobacco notes add complexity to the bouquet of this 2008 Tignanello. This 2008 Tignanello is darker in profile than some prior vintages.

On the palate, this 2008 Tignanello is dry, medium bodied and very long. Black and red fruit notes carried over from the nose of this 2008 Tignanello form the bulk of the flavours, although liquorice, vanilla and a slightly sweet spice are also in evidence (increasingly towards the finish of this 2008 Tignanello). A high level of acidity keeps this 2008 Tignanello flowing oh so smoothly and tannic structure of this 2008 Tignanello is pliable and well resolved.

Hard to fault from a purely technical perspective, this 2008 Tignanello doesn’t quite offer the nuance and complexity of prior vintages (or indeed some of Tuscany’s other top wines from the same vintage) at this time, meaning that a top score is missed by a whisker. However, history has shown that examples of Tignanello age well and that there is no need to rush to drink this 2008 Tignanello. Drink in the next 10 years.

Possible food pairings for this 2008 Tignanello are halfway between what you might typically expect for a more traditional Chianti and a richer heavier Cabernet Sauvignon based wine. The richest meat dishes will overpower this 2008 Tignanello to a certain extent, but pair this 2008 Tignanello with veal, or chicken for harmony. Alternatively, try this 2008 Tignanello with herb crusted lamb.
Antinori Tignanello, Toscana IGT (2008)

Score: 89/100 – This 2008 Tignanello is an excellent wine. Outstandingly long and balanced, this 2008 Tignanello lacks development and nuance at this time. With proper cellaring this 2008 Tignanello will improve over the next ten years.

Value for Money: 6/10 – Antinori’s Tignanello is one of the few Italian wines that is considered an “investment wine”. Prices have been elevated to levels that are exceptionally high as a result. Other Tuscan wines that are this accomplished are available at a quarter of the price, however none have the history or prestige that Tignanello has amassed.