Page 9 - Code de Vino, #4/09, a/w 2009
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8    Wine club                                                                          Code de Vino #4               Code de Vino #4                                                     A Talk with Marchese Piero Antinori  9
                                                             — The Antinori family has been producing wine for                — Wine has been a part
                                                             twenty-six generations. Who do you think among your              of people's lives for thousands
                                                             ancestors made the greatest contribution to the family           of years. Indeed, it is one
                                                             business?                                                        of the main basic components
                                                                                                                              of culture. This fact allows me
                                                             — Every generation bestows its own unique input upon it.         to claim that wine is a very
                                                             Sometimes several members of the family have been in the         civilized beverage that can
                                                             process, sometimes it was just one person, while the other       make a person's life better.
                                                             brothers devoted their lives to the army or church. In the       It has the power to help people
                                                             past, this was typical in other families as well.                understand each other and
                                                                                                                              be more tolerant, which
                                                             At the same time, I believe the last three generations have      is extremely important.
                                                             done a lot to make this business thrive. My grandfather
                                                             Piero (my namesake) together with his brother Ludovico           Sure enough, drinking quality
                                                             (named the same as my brother) lit a new fire under the          wine calls for certain rituals.
                                                             family business and made great strides in the company's          This is very important, as wine
                                                             reorganization. They modernized its sales management             isn't an industrially produced
                                                             and wineries, and created new vineyards in specific places.      beverage. It's a gift of nature.
                                                                                                                              The winemaking process
                                                             Then my father focused his energies on the family business,      demands a lot of passion,
                                                             and despite difficult periods in his life — I mean the two       patience and effort. As a drink,
                                                             world wars here — he was always very active and loved            it depends on Mother Nature
                                                             what he was doing with a passion. And finally, our current       and the unique harvests of every
                                                             generation because we are in this business during a very         year. So I don't think wine is
                                                             exciting period of time: a time for qualitative changes.         a beverage you can just open
                                                                                                                              up and guzzle down. One must
                                                                                                                              pay attention to wine, enjoy it...  The dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is visible from everywhere
                                                             — And you're right in the heart of all these changes.
                                                             Tell me though, do you consider yourself a
                                                             revolutionary? If so, what's your idea of the revolution?                                                                           — Do you mean that people have
                                                                                                                                                                                                 a responsibility in terms of wine?
                                                             — I don't really know if I can call myself a revolutionary.
                                                             I'm not sure that it's quite the right word. Here's what I think:                                                                   — Exactly! You're absolutely right.
                                                             in a certain moment of my life during the late 60s, I was very                                                                      And by rituals I mean what quality depends
                                                             curious and inquisitive. I really wanted to understand what                                                                         on, i.e. it should be wine of a certain class,
                                                             people did in the countries famous for their wine, and how                                                                          the bottle must be opened carefully, and
                                                             high quality wine was produced. So I began to travel to                                                                             the wine drank at the right temperature.
                                                             certain regions, for example, Bordeaux, Burgundy and                                                                                One should never treat wine carelessly,
                                                             other wine regions in France. I met people there involved                                                                           as it is a serious product and a lot of care
                                                             in winemaking who shared their experiences with me, and                                                                             and work is put into it. Wine absorbs
                  Palazzo Antinori does not pass, it seems   I arrived at the conclusion that in Italy, after many years                                                                         in everything, which I think is important
                             not a single tour of Florence   of focusing on quantity instead of quality, we must take                                                                            to remember when drinking it. One must
                                                             the opportunity to form the right conditions for producing                                                                          pay attention to all the details accompanying
                                                             top quality wines. So I started working towards these goals,                                                                        the process of wine drinking. That's why
                                                             and many other producers followed suit. That was the start                                                                          quality wine, and Antinori wine in particular,
                                                             of this significant shift. Those 30—40 years were an intense                                                                        demands a special approach.
                                                             and interesting period of my life, during which the Italian
                                                             wine industry changed dramatically. And note that this
                                                             all occurred over a relatively short timespan.                                                                                      — In your opinion, what does wine
                                                                                                                                                                                                 mean to an aristocrat? Wine culture
                                                             The famous English wine writer Hugh Johnson always says                                                                             is currently at a stage of active
                                                             there have been more changes in Italy (and not just there)                                                                          development in Russia, but many
                                                             over the last 30—40 years than over the last three or four                                                                          people are experiencing some
                                                             centuries. Can we call that a revolution? I'd say it's more                                                                         discomfort at their lack of knowledge
                                                             like a renaissance of Italian winemaking. This may be just                                                                          about what wine is, how it should
                                                             a coincidence, but the Renaissance of the 14th 15th                                                                                 be consumed... Can a real nobleman
                                                             centuries also began in Florence, in Tuscany.                                                                                       be the result of what wine means
                                                                                                                                                                                                 to him?
                                                             — Tuscany used to be populated by the Etruscans,                                                                                    — I believe that a nobleman is someone
                                                             who were among the first peoples to ever turn wine                                                                                  with a special culture and sensibility,
                                                             drinking into a ritual. So you consider your wine part                                                                              supported by traditions passed down
                                                             of a ritual? What would be the ritual of drinking                                                                                   from generation to generation. And above
                                    Coat of arms Antinori
                                                             Antinori wine?                                                                                                                      all else, it's someone with a noble soul...
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