Interview with Albiera Antinori on Chianti Classico 

The president of Marchese Antinori explains her relation ship to Gallo Nero and reveals company politics

Albiera Antinori, following her father Marchese Piero Antinori as president of conpany Marchese Antinori, answers our questions regarding Chianti Classico and company politics. Steffen Maus met her in the head office Antinori in Chianti Classico, the new winery of the company close to Florence. It's a modern type architechture, big winery and even bigger tourist attraction with own restaurant and guided visits for about 30.000 people a year, by appointment only.

Why did Antinori invest in Chianti Classico vineyards? 

Chianti Classico is a territory to which we are deeply connected, it is our land of origin where we have grown as individuals, as a family and finally as producers, recognizing from the beginning its potential for the production of hight quality wines. We still strongly believe in its potential and this has led us to invest over the last five years in two beautiful estates located in the areas of Gaiole and Castellina in Chianti, reflecting our commitment in an area that is in our roots and in our future. It is a unique territory for history, tradition, culture and landscape; here the Sangiovese can reach qualitative excellence and we strongly believe in this territory. 

Regarding the visibility and the reputation in foreign markets where do you see the wine now and what is your vision in 10 years? 
Speaking for ourselves, historically our principal market has always been the Italian market. We are quite proud of this as we strongly believe that to be recognized domestically as a great wine producer is very important. In the past 10 years, as Europe and especially Italy crossed a period of economic crisis, we further developed our export markets. North America (USA but also Canada), the world most important market for fine wines, is our second market after Italy, followed by Europe (Germany, Switzerland, UK above all). New opportunities are starting to develop in Asia, a market with a strong potential, although it will take time before wine will become part of local consumption habits. 

What are most striking differences between Chianti Classico and the Tuscan neighbours Brunello and Bolgheri? 

Tuscany in general is a very special place where to produce wine. It is made out of many different wine regions, each one of them with its own terroir and specific climatic conditions able to produce excellent wines with a recognizable style and character which clearly reflect the vineyard where they come from. We Tuscan producers have demonstrated over the years that in Tuscany there was the potential for producing excellent wines, widely recognized at an international level. Chianti Classico, Bolgheri and Brunello di Montalcino’s appellations are the three emblematic examples of success but also diversity, Bolgheri being the most divers in terms of location, climatic conditions and grape varieties that are grown there. As for Chianti Classico and Montalcino the diversity stands on how the territory is able to influence Sangiovese grape: more vibrant in Chianti Classico, more balanced in Montalcino. 

Are there too many bottles of Chianti Classico (compared to Brunello or Bolgheri) to play in the super premium league? 
Per il Chianti Classico c'è interesse da parte dei consumatori, grazie anche alla Gran Selezione ed alla Riserva, e c’è tuttora un amplissimo margine di crescita. Inoltre l’ampiezza della denominazione, al contempo così variegata ed eterogenea, porta ad avere una molteplicità di etichette sul mercato. 

As for Chianti Classico (thanks also to both Gran Selezione and Riserva) there is interest from the consumers and there is still a wide margin of growth. Furthermore the dimensions of the appellation, so varied and heterogeneous at the same time, leads to a multiplicity of labels on the shelf. 

Is the area comparable to any other Superpremium wine growing area (in Italy or in the world)? 
Yes, there is no reason why it should be considered on another level. An example is the Supertuscan wines produced in the Chianti Classico area that have well demonstrated, across the past 30 years, their capability of great quality, also recognised internationally. 

Gran Selezione is doing well, In the near future Badia GS remains the only Gran Selezione?   

For the moment yes.

Why is for example the new Marchese Antinori CC Riserva not a GS? 
Historically it has always been a Riserva, and we wanted also to see how the Gran Selezione evolved, as we believe it will need some 'fine tuning' in the definition of the classification. 

Is it positive from your perspective to focus on the different communes of Chianti Classico within this territory? 
We believe it can be an opportunity, only at the beginning for GS, together with a 'fine tuning' of the definition of GS. 

Is the opposite direction not more sensible like Chianti Classico is Tuscany? Not too clear what the question is. In any case going generic is usually never a help to improve perception and quality. 

What are the main driving forces for growth and strength of Antinori company? 

If I have to name two words, those are quality and personality. Said that, the balance between tradition and innovation is probably the key to the excellent results obtained in the national and international wine scenario. The long tradition must serve as an example, as a support, as a security. But at the same time it shouldn’t hold us back because innovation is every companies’ lifeblood. Sometimes family businesses like ours, that have been handed down for 26 generations, may have some difficulty in making it flow, as they are more tied to methods and traditional practices. 
Furthermore, we aim for a continuous improvement in all areas of the company (vineyard, cellar, distribution, marketing…) in order to be competitive from a qualitative point of view. A key element for us is to keep investing not just in vineyard and cellar but also in people in order for each estate to have its own dedicated staff (vineyard manager, agronomist, winemaker) who has the possibility to develop a strong feeling and deep connection with the territory, the vineyards and the different climates. 

What is your midterm strategy? 
In the next few years we will see the birth of some wonderful new wines, in very small productions, that are the essence of long years of work and knowledge of some very specific terroirs and vineyards. 

Brand building is a big argument, what does the brand Antinori stands for? 
To create and consolidate a brand image you need years of consistence and precision, both in quality and distribution. Our priority and first marketing tool is to keep producing high quality wines with personality that reflect more and more the terroir from where they come from. In our case, the quality of our wines has always been the most important asset for us, followed by a direct relationship with consumers. 

What is the risk and potential in selling online? 

Although the wine world was late in using the web, it has become more and more important, both for information and sales. We are being dragged in and it represents an opportunity for us. 

As already happened in other sectors, the road has already been traced, even in wine. In our case, however, the producers are perhaps still behind the evolution of the consumer, even if everyone is quickly recovering the gap. Truly specialized e-commerces have understood that the success of this activity lies not only in offering the lowest price but, above all, in providing a good service by conveying correct information on the wines, establishing a close collaboration with producers, and an effective and professional logistic service. 

Which markets are ahead for Antinori in this matter? 
Certainly the USA where e-commerce has already reached important market shares for wines above 15 $. We are sure that this channel will grow and develop in Italy as well, both in terms of quality and quantity of the offer and in terms of number of references, while remaining one of the various sales channels, not the only one. 

What is your politic on communication online? 
Certainly the Web has brought many profound changes and now the news spread much faster than they used to. Today, on the Internet, we have access to so much information on wines that was not available 30 years ago. This has developed in consumers the willing to come and see where our wines come from. For us this is a great opportunity, because we are able to get in contact with those who actually drink our wines. The main point is that through the internet it is possible to convey the spirit, experience and 'visuality' of the wine world in a better and more widespread way. 

Some Antinori wines and prices to buy online - Villa Antinori CC Ris 2015 24 € - Tenuta Tignanello CC Ris 2015 36 € - Badia GS 40 2015 €
Tignanello 0,375 für 50 € -  65 € Brunello Pian delle Vigne - 120 € Guado al asso - 20 € Vermentino Bolgheri - Santa Christina IGT 7.50 - Santa Christina Chianti Superiore 11.49 € - Villa Antinori IGT 14.99 € Villa Antinori Bianco 10 €