Italian winemaker Marchese Piero Antinori, president of Marchesi Antinori, one of the most historic and prestigious names in Tuscan viticulture, received a 2008 “Lifetime Achievement" Award from the American trade magazine Wine Enthusiast for “bringing Italy to the forefront of world enology in terms of innovation, quality and recognition.”1
The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, founded in 1988, is a leading U.S. lifestyle magazine covering wine and food topics worldwide as well as spirits and travel topics. For a complete listing of the magazine's Wine Star Award winners for 2008, see Wine Star Awards.
Beginning with Giovanni di Piero Antinori, who in 1385 joined the Florentine Winemakers Guild, the Antinori family has been producing quality wines for over 600 years. Throughout the company’s long history the Antinori estate has remained family owned and operated and Marchese Piero Antinori is the 26th consecutive generation of wine producers in the Antinori family (“Marchese” is the title for an Italian nobleman equivalent to the French “Marquis”).
Piero Antinori was born in Florence in 1939, studied Economics in college and joined the family company shortly after graduation. He took over the reins of the company from his father, Niccolo, in 1965 and today serves as president of the company. He is capably assisted by his three daughters, Alessia, Albiera and Allegra, all of whom hold managerial positions in the company and are being groomed to assume responsibility for the company’s diverse operations and thereby become the 27th generation of Antinori wine producers.
One of Marchese Antinori’s benchmark achievements was the introduction of Tignanello in 1971 which became the gold standard for a new category of wines called “Super Tuscans.” Constrained by the Chianti Classico DOC regulations, Antinori believed that great wines of special character could be produced in Tuscany from a blend of international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with native Sangiovese. The resulting Tignanello is a complex, firmly structured but elegant and aristocratic wine, not unlike Piero Antinori himself.
Within the Italian wine community, Piero Antinori is a larger-than-life personality – a trend-setting winemaker, consummate businessman and ambassador to the world for the wines of Italy.
The Antinori estate today is a multi-layered wine conglomerate with operations in Italy and around the world. In addition to wine estates in Tuscany, Umbria, Piedmont, Lombardy and Puglia, Marchese Antinori has operations in Napa, California and Chile’s Maipo Valley. Anticipating that wine would become an important element in lifestyle and destination travel, he opened a hotel in central Florence and a B&B not far from Florence. He also has opened restaurants in Italy as well as Vienna, Zurich, Moscow, Pebble Beach California and … well, you get the idea.
It’s hard to say where the Italian wine scene would be today without Piero Antinori‘s innovative initiatives. He has been an important influence in preserving Italy’s enological traditions while at the same time pioneering new approaches to producing quality wines. He is to wine what Frank Gehry is to architecture, pushing boundaries in order to create a remarkable artistic masterpiece.
While many individuals and personalities have contributed to Italy’s wine renaissance, there is little question that Piero Antinori’s singular initiatives have been instrumental in bringing Italy to the top of the world’s wine list.
1 “Piero Antinori,” Wine Enthusiast (December 15, 2008), p. 34.