There is something special about the Tuscan countryside. It may sound like a cliché but everything about the region is special. From the landscape to the food and wine, you are always in for a treat. It is therefore no wonder that it is one of the most sought after regions in Italy if not the world.
There is a lot on offer and no matter how many times you visit, you will always discover new things. On our last visit, we decided to head to the new Antinori cellars in Bargino, San Casciano in Val di Pesa.
The cellars of this renowned Tuscan (and Italian) winemaker were inaugurated on October 25, 2012 and are a homage to the family’s historic ties with the region.
For Italian wine lovers, Antinori needs no introduction. The have been producing wine for over 20 generations with the last generation improving on the winery’s already stellar reputation with the creation of high-end wines with a story like Tignanello and Solaia.
Their new cellars and headquarters in Bargino are unique in Italy. They were constructed with local materials and with maximum respect for the environment and the Tuscan landscape.
For lovers of architecture and wine, a visit to this winery is a must. The cellars, which have now become Antinori’s headquarters, are the place where the Villa Antinori Chianti Classico, the Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva, the Peppoli Chianti Classico and the Vinsanto de Chianti Classico are produced.
But what is unique about these cellars? Firstly, the creation of these cellars was strictly tied to the production of wine but the aim was also to bring the winery closer to wine lovers by giving them the opportunity to enter into direct contact with the production philosophy of the family, offering the possibility of seeing, from the vineyard to the bottle, how a wine is born, observing – step by step – the phases of fermentation and ageing.
We visited the cellars on a beautiful November morning and were stunned by the architecture and thought that went into the creation of this project. The attention that has gone into building this new winery is incredible.
From the road, you barely realise that the hill, with its vineyards houses a winery and cellars. The idea behind the structure of the cellar was that of being ‘invisible’. The cellars were constructed in total harmony with the landscape, and for this reason, the abandoned vineyards that had been on the hill when the Antinori’s purchased the land were replanted to cover the whole building.
You can only see the terrace of the cellars from the road. For the rest, all you see are vineyards where different grape varieties, principally Sangiovese, and in addition other grapes historically cultivated in Chianti Classico such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Malvasia Nera, Mammolo, and a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, have been planted.
The structure of the cellar is based, conceptually on profound and rooted ties to the earth, reflected in a minimal impact on the environment and maximum savings in energy.
A brownish red in color, just like the tonality of the earth, the cellars have been constructed with natural materials such as terracotta, wood, corten (an alloy of steel and copper), and glass.
The structure was conceived to allow the grapes and must to be moved by gravity flow, eliminating mechanical pumping.
The temperatures which are necessary for ageing the wine in barrel are created by the soil without refrigerating equipment of any sort; the cellars were created in order to realize this principle as well, that of maintaining ideal temperatures for the production and conservation of the wine as naturally as possible.
This innovative architecture is the work of the Archea Associati architectural studio and took nearly 10 years to create.
There are different ways to visit the winery. You can either go to the shop or restaurant and just walk around the museum and vineyards or else you can take one of three different tours.
Given we were with our two young children we took the shortest tour of an hour and a half where we got to visit the cellars, the place where the wine is fermented, the vineyards and the storage for olive oil and Vin Santo. We also saw a documentary on the Antinori family and visited the museum.
All in all, if you happen to be in the region, this is a visit we would highly recommend.
The winery is less than 30 minutes away from Florence and Siena.