Antinori to open cellar to the public

Famed Tuscan wine producer Antinori is to open its cellar door to the public for the first time in its 600-year history.

The new visitor centre between Florence and Sienna will also serve as the company’s headquarters and a cellar for its Chianti Classico wines.

Speaking at the World Wine Symposium at Villa d’Este in Lake Como on Saturday, vice president Albiera Antinori told the drinks business: “The centre will opens its doors to the public next year and will offer tastings and tours.

“Italy is the last major wine producing country to catch on to the benefits of wine tourism, but we’re hoping the new centre will prove popular with those with an interest in our long history.”

Antinori also spoke of the potential of Romania, where the company has an experimental 20-hectare project, to be one of the next great wine regions in the world.

“Romania’s winemaking history dates back to the Roman times, and they’ve got an exciting red grape called Feteasca Neagra, which has great potential.”

According to Antinori, China is waking up to Italian wines. “We’ve always been 10 years behind Burgundy and Bordeaux, so the Chinese are just starting to take an interest in Italian wines.

“They are very brand driven in Asia, so it will be harder for us, but they have a culture where sitting down for a meal is still seen as sacred, which works in our favour, as our wines are made to be enjoyed with food.”

Head of the company, Marchese Piero Antinori (above), founder of Tignanello, one of the world’s best-known Super Tuscans, was set to give a keynote speech at the conference, but had to pull out at the last minute due to illness.

Antinori, 73, is assisted by his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra and Alessia, who are all personally involved in the business.

Albiera insists Antinori has no plans to retire yet, despite his advancing years. “Absolutely not, he is still very much involved in the running of the company. He has the ability to foresee what lies ahead, so it’s of vital importance that he doesn’t retire.”

Last month, the Antinori family released its newest wine, Matarocchio, at Christie’s Rockerfeller Center office in New York.

The 2007 Matarocchio is a 100% Cabernet Franc grown on a hillside of the family’s Guado al Tasso estate in Maremma. A mere 250 cases of the wine have been bottled.

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