On their honeymoon, my brother and his wife spent a week in Tuscany, and one of the highlights of their trip was a stop at Antinori’s historic Badia a Passignano estate, in the Chianti Classico district, where he raved about the lunch at Osteria di Passignano and the tasting and tour of the abbey’s historic cellars. My brother particularly enjoyed Antinori’s Tignanello bottling—a super Tuscan blend of predominantly Sangiovese, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, from another of the company’s estates in Chianti Classico—and has since been collecting every new vintage upon release.
He treated my husband and I and another couple to a mini-vertical of three of the past decade’s vintages last month, over a selection of cheeses, salumi and other snacks. The full-bodied 2005 was still in the prime of its youth, with bold aromas and flavors of ripe wild berries, currants and licorice, along with notes of savory herbs, and a smooth, polished texture that belied its power. 92 points, non-blind.
In contrast, the 2004 was more elegant, with high-toned aromas of sweet herbs and refined tannins, a dash of black pepper spicing up the flavors of blackberries, black cherries and dried currants. Easier to pair with the mix of food on the table, it was ready to drink, though it clearly has staying power. Our small group preferred it over the 2005, which we thought would benefit from another year or two before revisiting. 94 points, non-blind. One of the great vintages of Tignanello, this was No. 4 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2007.
The 2001 had really come into its own with 10 years of age, all its elements knitting together into a supple, harmonious whole. Its enticing aromas of sweet herbs, anise, wild berries and mocha carried through on the palate, picking up some subtle leather and tobacco notes, with an extra touch of mocha on the lingering finish. 95 points, non-blind.
I enjoyed the chance to look at the most recent era for this benchmark Tuscan wine—one of the first to break with the tradition of the old Chianti regulations and permitted varieties in an effort to boost quality, inspiring numerous others to follow suit. Now that it has so much company, it may no longer be top of the pack, but it’s still going strong.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting reviews for Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2005 (92, $95), Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2004 (95, $79 on release) and Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2001 (91, $75).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated super Tuscan wines.