Vineyards

The vineyards are divided into small parcels which include two jewels: the 57 hectares (some 140 acres) of the Tignanello vineyard and the contiguous 20 hectares (50 acres) of the Solaia vineyard. The soil of the property, which dates from the Pliocene epoch, generally with little fertility and limited supplies of ground water and with sub-soils rich in limestone and calcareous clay rock, constitutes something special and unique. Together with the particular position of the vineyards, planted at an altitude between 340 and 400 meters (1175-1325 feet) in altitude, it contributes to obtaining wines of decisive character and a distinct elegance: the grapes enjoy warm days and cool nights during the growing season.

The grape varieties which have been planted at Tignanello include the native Sangiovese and the non-traditional Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There are small quantities of white grapes, Malvasia and Trebbiano, utilized for the production of Vin Santo. Other non-traditional grapes at Tignanello include a few rows of Syrah and Merlot, planted for experimental purposes during the 1970’s.
The property also includes 37 hectares (over 90 acres) of olive groves which produce a small quantity of olive oil.

Experimentation

Ever since the 1979’s the Tenuta Tignanello estate has been, in a certain sense, the “laboratory” for the experimental work of the Antinori firm. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were first experimented with by Antinori in the 1920’s, then abandoned during the Second World War , replanted in the 1960’s, and first used commercially in the 1970’s. In viticulture, research is based on work to obtain grapes with greater concentration and suppler tannins, intervening on vineyard spacing (better if tighter) or pruning practices and the selection of Sangiovese clones. In the field of oenology, the guidelines are oriented towards obtaining wines with a well defined personality by means of fermentation in oak, soft pressing and soft, non-traumatic movement of the fermenting grapes along with a malolactic fermentation in oak barrels.

All the new viticultural practices now becoming standard working methods move in the same direction and are the result of 30 years of experience with the Sangiovese grape. In this part of Tuscany, a special area in terms of altitude, exposition, micro-climate, and soil, Sangiovese becomes expressive by bringing out all of its character and personality, but there is also some risk of a less than perfect ripening which can lead to tannins which can be slightly “nervous”.

To reduce these limits to the expressiveness of Sangiovese, we are using the limestone – “albarese” – rocks present in the soil. These white stones were first pulverized and then placed below the vine rows to create a series of advantages: greater solar radiation caused by the reflection of sunlight from the stones, fewer problems of weed infestation, grapes which are closer to the warmth of the ground. The grapes produce a wine with softer and rounder tannins, but which maintain the typical structure and complexity of Sangiovese.

Cellars

Made to measure attention and care guide the cellar work as well: Tignanello and Solaia, in fact, have cellars for the fermentation and aging of the wines dedicated solely to them. The fermenting cellars, completely renovated in 2008, are located in an old building close to the estate’s villa, and the aging – or barrel – cellars are, effectively, the cellar of the villa.
The fermenting cellars were planned with the aim of the maximum attention to detail and to the achievement of significant subtleties in the wines. This is possible thanks to equipment, tools, modern material, but certainly to human sensibility as well.

An area for receiving the crop was created solely for the Solaia grapes: after destemming, a manual selection on a conveyor belt, “berry by berry”, is carried out. The berries then go into the fermenting tanks, on top of which there is pressing equipment which allows the crushed gapes to go directly into their fermenters.
Small (60 hectoliter), conical oak fermenters were selected in order to carry out the punching down of the cap of skins without excessive force or impact, a working method, therefore, which is particularly delicate. After the fermentation, the wine goes directly into the underground aging cellars, moving  solely by the force of gravity.

The aging cellars in which the Solaia barrels are situated, one with a classic arched stone ceiling, is part of the original structure of the villa, while the Tignanello aging cellars are a later enlargement, realized and created expressly for the aging of the wine in barrel.