Dark red. Musky red berries and spicecake on the nose, with complicating notes of wilted violet and vanilla. Ripe, sappy and expansive, offering sweet red cherry-cola and vanilla flavors. A spine of tangy acidity adds structure and lift to the long, sappy, subtly spicy finish. This wine unfolds nicely in the glass, suggesting that some cellaring will be rewarded. A very successful Badia a Passignano, one of the better vintages I remember at a similar stage of development.
Badia a Passignano Riserva is produced exclusively from the finest, most highly selected grapes grown on the estate of the same name situated in the Chianti Classico area. The abbey, which is located in an area that has been inhabited at least since the Etruscan period, is one of the finest fortified abbeys in the area. It has been renowned for its wine production for over 1,000 years. The Antinori family bought the 325 hectares' estate around the abbey (which is own by Vallombrosian monks)in 1987, including the use of the monastery cellars. The Badia a Passignano estate has served to take Piero Antinori’s experimental work with Tuscan wines to a higher level, in preparation for the 21st century. "The 1970's and '80s, in Tuscany, were characterized primarily by the production of vini da tavola with blends of indigenous and non-indigenous grape varieties, principally due to the lack of careful selection of Sangiovese grapes grown in the '60s," he says. "Fundamentally, we were taking an enological rather than a viticultural approach. Now I want to produce wines that more readily reflect the unique identity, personality and peculiarities of the Tuscan soil, as expressed through the Sangiovese grape. In a sense, Badia a Passignano completes the cycle that began when we circumvented the laws to create Tignanello." The individuality of the wine is reflected by its label, which is produced following the unique process used to make Swiss bank notes. It depicts a modern rendering of Badia a Passignano and a vine leaf, and was designed by Piero Antinori, who says, "The label reflects genuine authenticity, because it is impossible to reproduce or counterfeit". He selected this symbolism to have the label serve as an analogy to the wine and reflect its value; the labels were engraved and printed in Switzerland by descendants of Christoffel Froschauer, who was honored for his printing by the city of Zurich in 1519, and whose firm has been the printer of Swiss National Bank notes since 1603.