80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
The autumn of 2009 and the winter of 2010 were characterized, in the Chianti Classico zone, by ample rainfall and by decidedly cold temperatures; snow arrived towards the end of 2009 and occasional snowfall continued until the early part of March. This phase of the growing season caused a sustained period of repose in their vegetative activity for the vines, and this, along with regular rainfall during the first part of spring, led to a delayed arrival of bud break compared to seasonal norms. April, May, and June, a critical moment in vine development and growth, saw much rainfall; this, together with lower than average temperatures, led to a general delay in the cycle of the growing season in all of the varieties cultivated in the Tignanello vineyard. True summer weather did not begin until the month of July which, with its elevated temperatures and a completely dry climate, contributed to an excellent development of the grape bunches and a recovery of the ripening time previously lost. The climate changed once again towards the end of July and during the first half of August, with rather low temperatures for the period and three significant rainstorms which slowed down the color change in the grapes.
This climate during the growing season made a careful selection of the grapes quite necessary, a selection aimed at limiting the production of grapes per vine and, above all, at assuring that the bunches be as healthy as possible.
Picking operations began towards the end of the month of September, a month which alternated periods of warm, sunny, and windy days with others with occasional cloudbursts, at times rather intense, followed by powerful north winds which rapidly dried both the grapes and the overall micro-climate of the vineyard. The warm days and the cool evenings and nights, instead, assisted a complete physiological ripening of the grapes.
The healthiness of the grapes, an important richness of color and aroma and a powerful varietal character were already evident as soon as the grapes reached the cellars and initial phases of fermentation began, all characteristics which suggested a vintage of a high quality level.
A particularly cool and frequently rainy climate required an important effort of selection both during the growing season and during the harvest; the grapes were picked entirely by hand, variety by variety according to the different characteristics of the terroir of the individual plots, therefore the type of soil, the varying altitudes, and the expressive character created by the ripening process itself .
The Cabernet Franc, the first variety to mature, was harvested between September 25th and September 28th, while the first bunches of Sangiovese were not picked until September 30th. The Cabernet Sauvignon, finally, was harvested between October 4th and October 12th.
Once in the cellars, the grapes were delicately destemmed and the berries, before pressing, carefully selected, one by one, on the sorting table; here the attention to detail is always at maximum levels: berries which are not completely ripe are discarded and only perfectly ripe ones enter into the fermenting tanks. During the fermentation and the period of skin contact in the conical oak fermenters, the must is transformed into wine with an extreme attention to freshness and fragrance, to extraction of color, to a handling of the tannins which aims at suppleness and elegance. All of this requires great sensitivity, an absolute knowledge of the characteristics of the grapes, and a constant focus on the developing wine, which is only run off its skins after careful day by day tasting during fermentation.
After the juice was separated from the skins, the wine was put through a complete malolactic fermentation in small oak barrels to bring out all the finesse and sheer drinking pleasure of the wine. The aging process then began and lasted approximately twelve to fourteen months; during this period, the various lots, fermented and aged separately variety by variety and plot by plot, developed in barrel and then, a few months before bottling, were assembled and blended.
Tignanello is produced exclusively from the vineyard of the same name, a parcel of some 140 acres (57 hectares) with limestone-rich soils and a southwestern exposure at 1150-1325 feet (350-400 meters) above sea level at the Tignanello estate. It was the first Sangiovese wine to be aged in small oak barrels, the first modern red wine to use such non-traditional varieties as Cabernet in the blend, and among the first red wines from the Chianti Classico area to be produced without white grapes. The wine, originally called "Chianti Classico Riserva vigneto Tignanello" (a Chianti Classico Riserva from the Tignanello vineyard), was produced for the first time from a single vineyard parcel in 1970, when the blend contained 20% of Canaiolo and 5% of Trebbiano and Malvasia, both white grapes., and the wine aged in small oak barrels. In 1971 it became a Tuscan red table wine rather than a Chianti Classico, and was called Tignanello. In the 1975 vintage the percentage of white grapes was definitively eliminated from the blend. Ever since 1982, the blend has been the one currently used. Tignanello is bottled only in favorable vintages, and was not produced in 1972, 1973,1974, 1976, 1984, 1992, and 2002.
An intense ruby red in color, the aromas of the wine are characterized by a powerful varietal expressiveness, with ample notes of red fruit, raspberries, and liquorice. On the palate, the wine, still very young, immediately shows firm tannins with much polish and finesse as well, along with a balancing, tonic acidity and savory mineral notes which add length and persistence to the finish and aftertaste.