The Winemakers’ Winemakers
by Ian D’Agata
What greater accolade can there be than to be judged best in the world by your peers? We asked leading winemakers around the world which three of their peers they most admired. The criteria were that they could be making wine in any part of the world but must have made at least 10 vintages and must still be making wine today. They could be working in a winery or as a consultant. When we number crunched the 133 responses, these were the names that came out on top…
The Top Five
(in alphabetical order)
As part of the consulting work Antonini does around the world, in 2010 he was offered a job in the region of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. In their first conversation, the producer told him he wanted a ‘modern’ wine. Antonini, his voice calm, his manner zen-like, replied that if what he meant was a wine made from local grapes and fermented in amphorae, like the wines made 6,000 years ago in Yeghegnadzor, then that was the ‘modern’ wine he needed. ‘The wine of the future will be the wine of the past,’ says Antonini. And thats the vision, even after a 30 year career, sparks this Italian winemaker’s excitement – the idea of returning to absolute simplicity in order to achieve the best possible interpretation of where wines are born.
But that wasn’t always his goal. Antonini today advises wineries in places as diverse as Maldonado on the Uruguayan coast, or Caltanissetta on the island of Sicily. But it all started in Florence, where he graduated in oenology and viticulturein 1985. His first job was assistant winemaker at Frescobaldi, and then he became the technical manager at remarkable Tuscan wineries like Col d’Orcia and Antinori. In 1997, however, he decided to work as a consultant, and it was then that his influence began to be felt.
Many of his clients are in Italy and he has his own winery, Poggiotondo in Tuscany, where he lives when not travelling.