Winemaker Talk: Alberto Antonini

Italian winemaker makes outstanding wines from Tuscany to Argentina
Feb 2, 2007

Tuscany-born winemaker Alberto Antonini, 47, is among the most influential consultants from Italy. His credits include Castello di Bossi's modern Chianti Classicos and all-Merlot Girolamo, as well as the new Poggio al Tesoro wines from the Bolgheri joint venture between the Allegrini family and U.S. importer Leonardo LoCascio. But his reach extends far beyond his native country. He is also partner and winemaker for Altos Las Hormigas, which makes some of Argentina's top Malbecs. Antonini studied at the University of Florence in the early- and mid-'80s, as well as the Université de Bordeaux and later at the University of California, Davis. With an international education, it shouldn't come as any surprise that today Antonini's consulting company works with clients from Armenia to South Africa. Among his several South American clients are Concha y Toro in Chile and Bodegas Nieto Senetiner, Bodegas Renacer and Bodega Melipal in Argentina. Despite his globetrotting lifestyle (and the workload that goes with it), however, Antonini is the last to sing his own praises. He's soft-spoken and prefers to keep a low profile.

Wine Spectator: What was your first vintage in the wine business?
Alberto Antonini: 1980 was my first vintage, at my family winery, Poggiotondo, which is located in the Chianti region of Tuscany. I was just helping my father to make the wine. Basically a lot of manual work, like pruning and canopy management in the vineyard, and racking and pumping over in the cellar. It's what got me interested in being a winemaker.

WS: How many wineries do you currently consult for?
AA: Twelve in Italy, 10 in Argentina and 4 in Chile. I also work with three wineries in California, two in Spain and others in Australia, South Africa Armenia and Romania.

WS: What wineries did you work at before starting your own consulting business?
AA: [I was] assistant winemaker at Frescobaldi in Tuscany, head winemaker at Col d'Orcia and head winemaker at Antinori.

WS: Who have been your biggest influences as a winemaker?
AA: Working for Piero Antinori was a great learning experience. I understood how to combine tradition and innovation in a way to make wine with a strong identity and a sense of place, but also keep in mind what the consumer is looking for.

WS: What's your favorite food pairing with Argentinean Malbec?
AA: A juicy, medium-rare bife de chorizo--the typical cut of Argentinean beef.

WS: What's your favorite wine, other than one of your own?
AA: I really love the Masseto from Tenuta dell'Ornellaia.

WS: If you could be one other person in the wine business for one day, who would it be, and why?
AA: André Tchelistcheff, who I met a few years before he died. He had such an amazing wine culture and a charm that impressed me very much as a young winemaker. I could spend hours listening to his professional life, his contribution to the development of the concept of quality in Napa Valley, and all he did in his life. A real "maestro" in a broad sense.

People

You Might Also Like

Drew Bledsoe's Long Game in Washington and Oregon

Drew Bledsoe's Long Game in Washington and Oregon

The QB-vintner of Doubleback is marching downfield with a new state-of-the-art winery, new …

Jan 22, 2020
Charles Woodson Covers California

Charles Woodson Covers California

The defensive veteran started with one barrel at Robert Mondavi; now he makes seven …

Jan 17, 2020
Dan Marino and Damon Huard, Passing Time and Wine

Dan Marino and Damon Huard, Passing Time and Wine

Two former Dolphins quarterbacks—mentor and mentee—forged a brotherly relationship and …

Jan 15, 2020
Wine Scores a Touchdown

Wine Scores a Touchdown

15 NFL teams are fielding official wines, while a few pros have launched their own labels

Feb 29, 2020
Sommelier Roundtable: Your Wine Predictions for 2020—and Trends You're Over

Sommelier Roundtable: Your Wine Predictions for 2020—and Trends You're Over

Yes to education, alternative packaging and the Southern Hemisphere, but check frosé, bad …

Jan 10, 2020
Sommelier Roundtable: Which Bubbly for a New Year's Party?

Sommelier Roundtable: Which Bubbly for a New Year's Party?

From grower Champagne to next-level Prosecco, 9 wine pros recommend pours to ring in 2020. …

Dec 26, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search