Antinori, the well-respected family-owned Tuscan wine firm, signed an agreement last month to produce sparkling wine at Countess Camilla Maggi's property in the Franciacorta area of northern Italy. The wine will be sold under the Antinori label.
The agreement provides Antinori with a 25-year lease on the property, which includes its historic cellars, dating back to the 18th century, and 100 acres of vines, mainly Chardonnay. Plans call for another 50 acres of vines to be planted. The Maggi property -- which was previously leased out to a local sparkling wine producer -- is in the heart of Franciacorta (the name given to the hills north of Cortefranca in Lombardy), which is Italy's premium area for the production of sparkling wines. Two of the country's best known dry spumante producers, Bellavista and Ca' del Bosco, are located in the area.
The Antinori firm began producing sparkling wine under the Marchese Antinori brand in 1905; its non-vintage extra brut and vintage brut bottlings are sold in Italy and other European countries, but not in the United States.
Piero Antinori, president of the company, said that the agreement "not only binds us to a great area of production, but also to a great family, which will enable us to strengthen our tradition in the champenoise method, a tradition started by my grandfather. This new agreement is in accordance with our family strategy of being present in the most important production areas of fine wines."
Antinori's first bottling from the Maggi property will be the 2000 vintage, which will be released at the beginning of 2002. The initial production will be about 5,000 cases, said marketing director Albiera Antinori, and some of that will be exported to the United States.
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