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Uncorked: Albiera Antinori

A 26th generation member of Italy’s illustrious Antinori family, Albiera Antinori is the first female president of the Antinori wine dynasty. Recently named as one of the 10 most influential women in the wine industry by db, Albiera was in Hong Kong this week to unveil the latest vintage of winery’s flagship Super Tuscan ‘Tignanello’ – the 2015 – with its local importer Links Concept. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc from a 57 ha single vineyard of the same name. The 2015 vintage has been highly acclaimed, “thanks to the highly favourable weather during the entire growing season” according to the winery. While chatting to dbHK, Antinori talked about the importance of patience in the wine trade, the most challenging part of her job, memories of Antinori’s Bolgheri estate and her dream dinner with ancestors.

What vintage are you?

1966. In Chianti Classico, it is not a good vintage. It was a very wet and rainy season and in Florence, it was flooded in 1966. Not one of the best vintages in the area. (A legendary Port vintage though, Albiera. Ed.)

What bottle sparked your love of wine?
My fist memory of wine was at a Sunday lunch. I was quite young, and I remember a nice ‘fiasco’ (the old straw bottle typical for Chianti Classico wine) that we had for lunch and I was allowed to taste a little bit and mixed with water. I must have been six or seven so that was my first memory of wine.
What would you be as a wine?

I couldn’t find exactly a definition, but probably a Sangiovese based wine that has the longevity, the tannins and the elegance. And longevity in the sense of strength.

Where are you happiest?
Probably in our estate in Bolgheri, Guado del Tasso, where we have vacation houses. It’s really a special place, where we have lots of family memories and cousins around. So for us, it’s the place to be. With lots of nature as well.
What’s your greatest vice?
Probably impatience.
Best advice you ever got?
It’s probably correcting the vice. So to be more patient because in the wine business you do need to have a lot of patience. You plant vineyards then you have to wait. If things are not exactly what you thought, then you have to be patient. With wines you can’t cut corners and rush things.
Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?
Antinori 1926 and Tignanello 1971, both are symbols of our estate.
What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?
The best is for sure the part in the vineyard. You plant vines, you train it, you prune it and you have an idea how the wine is going to come out. It’s the link of the earth and where it grows and catches the idea of the producer. And finally getting a product that represents where in the world it’s coming from and who made it, that’s for sure the best part.
The worst part. There are actually two difficult parts. One is you can’t do anything if the season goes wrong. You know it but there’s really nothing to do and it’s frustrating. Another one is when you travel around the world, you sell the wine and sometimes, it’s difficult to get the message about the wine out, the essence of the wine, to let people understand what is behind a bottle of the wine. Bottles of wine can travel so far away, and they are alone on the shelf and they have to speak for themselves. That’s a hard part.
What’s on your wine bucket list?
There are many. I haven’t seen many of the great wine producing wine areas, or visited New Zealand, but also visiting again Bordeaux or Burgundy would be interesting. In terms of liking wine, one goes through phases, I think that getting to know the great Burgundy wines, some great vintages of the obvious ones, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, for instance would be wonderful. It’s quite interesting to try these new dry Rieslings around the world, from Australia for instance. The wines are very perfumed, tasty but not heavy. With wine, there’s always something to discover.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I would love to have a dinner party with a good part of my ancestors to ask details, stories and how they went through different phases. Because sometimes you hear stories and you read what they wrote, see what they have done, but asking and meeting them would be interesting so a full table of ancestors.
Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)?
Overall 85 points. Because I am satisfied but I want to be more satisfied.
Which wine would you like served at your funeral?
This was the funniest question. We have cousins who produce Sassicaia, so it’s the same area of Bolgheri. So before coming here, [I asked my cousin –Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta] ‘can I say Sassicaia 1985 for my funeral?’ and she answered, ‘Do I have to keep some back?’ I said, ‘Yes you need to put allocation on it’. So Sassicaia 1985, a wonderful wine.

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