An Antinori CrestThis is the third of three articles devoted to my recent trip to Chianti Classico in Italy.  It focuses on a tour of Antinori’s regional estates that I arranged after the Consorzio event ended.  I have also included in my recommendations some Chianti Classico wines from Antinori that I tasted during the Consorzio tour previously described.

Tignanelo and SolaiaFirst off, Tuesday, June 4, was a “Ben Day,” which meant that I spent time at the Accaddemia with Michelangelo’s David and then headed over to the Uffizi for a Botticelli fix.  The next day, Wednesday, I arrived early at the Palazzo Antinori (built in 1461, bought by the Antinoris in 1506) and had a short tour of the premises, an iconic symbol of this noble family’s presence in Florence and Tuscany.  Then I visited the 55 hectare hill that contains the crus for Tignanello and Solana.  One of the most interesting viticultural elements in the vineyard is the large number of native, white stones that have been piled up to regulate heat transfer rates all day and night.  As my guide explained, they therefore didn’t change terroir – they merely enhanced it.

The road to Badia a PasignanoI then headed over for a visit at Badia a Passignano, which is actually a working monastery where Antinori had arranged to rent the cellars for wine production starting in 1986.  With lunch in the Michelin-starred restaurant I enjoyed a gold-yellow Montenisa Franciacorta Dizero Blanc de Blancs.  Smelling of yellow apple and sunshine while tasting of pear and nectarine, this intense, very fruity wine was perfect with a plate of small, traditional appetizers.

With my duck entrée came the big boys.  A black-purple Tignanello 2010 nosed violets and black cherries while the palate focused on mocha, lavender, and cola.  The Solaia 2009, also darkly purple in tone, was more about vanilla, red raspberry, rosemary and pink cherry.

How to enjoy lifeThe next morning I bid adieu to Florence and flew to Austria to embark on a Burgenland press trip, starting with a pre-tour dinner in Vienna alongside the director of Wein Burgenland, Christian Zechmeister.  But that is for the next column.  Also, I will be heading out for a week in Seattle and eastern Washington on Saturday and will report from there, as well.  While on the road I now mostly employ Twitter (@WineOnTheRoad) and a WOTR Facebook fan page ( to share my experiences.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, or if you just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email (, Twitter, Facebook, and my cell (+1 303 522-6738).



Wine On The RoadWith Wine On The Road (, my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines.  Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.  We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in 2011 we occupied an ancient castle that had been completely restored and upgraded with all of the modern amenities).  We eat at authentic local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best expressions of local wine grapes.

Planned excursions include Italy’s Piedmont during the annual white truffle festival next November (currently available at and a visit to Mendoza and Buenos Aires, Argentina, tentatively scheduled for early 2014 (  You can learn more about this trip, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these tours by emailing me at




Montenisa Franciacorta Dizero Blanc de Blancs (Lombardy, Italy) $40


Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2009 (Tuscany, Italy) $30

Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2008 (Tuscany, Italy) $44

Antinori Tignanello 2010 (Tuscany, Italy) $100

Antinori Solaia 2009 (Tuscany, Italy) $250