Marchesi Antinori is synonymous with the best of Italian winemaking. The Antinori family has been in the wine producing business for 26 generations and it now one of the most successful and admired producers in Italy. Based in Tuscany and Umbria, the family has in recent decades bought estates in other parts of Italy as well as the United States. The business is led by Marchese Piero Antinori, who is respected for his passionate attention to tradition and terroir as well as his interest in innovation and new ideas. Antinori originally made its reputation by producing Chianti Classico, though these days it is equally known for its Super Tuscans -- Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri, Solaia and Tignanello. Super Tuscans are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah, and were among the first blended wines in Italy. Marchesi Antinori owns about 4,000 acres of vineyards and produces between 40,000 and 50,000 cases of its three Super Tuscans annually.
Chianti is Tuscany’s most famous and historic wine district, and the Chianti Classico DOCG is the most prestigious Chianti appellation. Fittingly, it is located in the heart of the larger Chianti DOCG. Chianti’s wines were so esteemed during the Renaissance that the Medici princes of Florence designated several villages within the Chianti region as discrete production zones, setting up the first appellations in Italy. By the 20th century Chianti was Italy’s primary wine export. But the pizza parlor Chiantis sent to foreign markets were inexpensive, unremarkable reds presented in round-bottomed, straw-covered bottles. To upgrade Chianti wines and the region’s image, the Chianti Classico DOC was created in 1967, then upgraded to DOCG status in 1984, with additional modifications made in 1996. In the last 20 years a consortium of Chianti Classico producers have researched new Sangiovese clones, replanted vineyards, updated cellar practices and generally made Chianti Classico DOCG a world-class appellation. Chianti Classico must contain a minimum of 75% Sangiovese. In the 2014 edition of its annual compendium of wine ratings, Gambero Rosso noted that Chianti Classico DOCG wines were noteworthy for their “significant return to a more defined style, true to tradition.”