BADIA A PASSIGNANO is a winery in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, one of the nine townships (‘comuni’) in the Chianti Classic DOCG. It is named after the abbey (‘badia’), Badia a Passignano which Antinori’s vineyards surrounds. Antinori says ‘the fundamental importance of this abbey in the history of Chianti Classico can be read in many volumes housed in the State Archives of Florence, which confirm the presence of Sangiovese vineyards and other types of cultivation in the zone. Further confirmation came in 1983 when a millennia-old Vitis vinifera vine was found in the grounds. The abbey is still used by the Benedictine brethren who began Badia a Coltibuono, and is situated in Sambuca Val di Pesa, 1.9 miles (3km) to the south of Antinori’s Tenuta Tignanello estate (and thus from the vineyards of Solaia and Tignanello).’
OWNER | Antinori rent the cellars and vineyards here. The monastery belongs to the monks.
VINEYARDS | The estate comprises 223 hectares of land, over a calcareous terrain which rises to an altitude of 250-300 metres (825-100 feet) above sea level. The vineyards which surround the abbey have belonged to the Antinori family since 1987. Currently there are 56 hectares (140 acres) planted to Sangiovese (the budwood came from vineyards at the Tenuta Tignanello estate). Planting density is 5000-7000 vines per hectare. Samgiovese vines are cordon de Royat trains. Also grown: Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
WINERY | Antinori says ‘the monastery, which was the residence of the founder of the Vallombrosian order, belongs to the monks, while Antinori has the use of the splendid old cellars located directly beneath the monastery. The cellars have vaulted ceilings and thick walls which maintain constant temperatures and humidity throughout the year. They hold approximately two thousand 60 gallon barrels coopered from French oak for the production of the Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva.
CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG RISERVA, BADIA A PASSIGNANO | 1995 Antinori (abridged) says ‘90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia. 1995 was a later than usual harvest due to a cold spring followed by damp weather until mid-June, when it turned hot and dry through July to mid-August. From mid-August to mid-September temperatures were below average with some rain. The weather then improved and was sunny, dry and very warm. Antinori severely thinned and selected grape clusters before harvest. Below average yields.’ / 1996 Antinori (abridged) says ‘90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot. Spring was quite cool, slightly delayed budburst. Warmer weather followed. Perfect flowering and fruit set. Green harvest in the second half of August. Remaining clusters ripened perfectly.’ / 1997 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Atypically mild, dry late winter and early spring. Budburst 10 days earlier than average. In April temperatures suddenly dropped, halting growth. Hot from summer to the end of September and harvest. Healthy grapes, with high sugars. Lower than expected yields. Exceptional quality, probably better than 1990 vintage and one of the greatest of the last fifty years.’ / 1998 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Mild, very dry late winter and early spring. Early budburst, and an accelerated the vegetative cycle, until stabilising rain in May. Normal flowering in terms of timing. Very hot June. Vegetative cycle was accelerated by about 10-12 days. Very hot summer, sunny, well above average temperatures, particularly in July with long, dry periods, which slowed vine growth slightly. Ripenning a week earlier than average. / 1999 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Rain in early spring, above average temperatures. Budburst a few days earlier than normal. Excellent flowering. Early summer rain. Heavy crop, needed thinning during August. Harvest from early September under fine weather.’ / 2000 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Budburst one week earlier. Excellent weather in spring, being warm and with the right amount of rain, resulting in excellent flowering and the relative vegetal cycle. Veraisaon 7 to 10 days earlier than usual. Heat wave week in mid August, crop-thinning. Dry duting harvest.’ / 2001 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Wet early spring, slightly warmer than usual. Early budburst Excellent flowering and vegetative cycle. Earyl summer rains. Cool nights during harvest.’ / 2003 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. One of the hottest years in recent decades. In late March the winery’s weather station recorded maximum temperatures of over 20°C, climbing to over 30°C in early May and close to 40°C in August. A record total of 2400° in daytime was recorded by heat summation, (which expresses the energy received by the vineyard during its vegetative-productive phase) compared to an average of 2000°. From early June until the harvest there were only four significant rainfalls, roughly one per month, which allowed the grapes to ripen well despite limited water.’ / 2004 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Very rainy autumn, cold winter with heavy rain. Budbreak 10-15 days ahead. Frequent rain and cool temperatures during flowering. This delayed veraison and ripening, harvest being two weeks later than previous years, with frequent and quite heavy rain. A cool, wet year after the hot, dry 2003.’ / 2005 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Rainy autumn and winter with fairly low average temperatures and some snow. Vine growth 12-15 days later than in 2004. Warm spring weather enabled the vines to develop about 10 days earlier than average. June, July and August were unusually cool. Plenty of rain in August. This hampered ripening process.’ / 2006 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. Rainy, cold autumn. Harsh winter with consistent rains. Late budburst. Wet during flowering and fruit set. Hot second half of July. August cooler than average with frequent rains. Warm days, cool nights during September and October. Excellent grape maturation.’ / 2007 Antinori (abridged) says ‘100% Sangiovese. A particularly dry, mild winter. Very early bud break. Warm early summer. August relatively cool. Harvest slightly earlier than usual. September and October were warm, sunny, with cool nights. Could pick everything ripe, Sangiovese picked during the last ten days of September and early October.’ / 2008 Antinori (abridged) says the 2008 growing season ‘started with a late (2007) autumn and winter which was neither particularly cold nor wet. This led to early budburst. Adverse spring weather: frequent rainfall until late May, slowing plant growth. Warm June and July. Occasional rain in August. Good weather in September and October for picking. High day-night temperature swings. Sangiovese picked from the second half of September to 10th October.’ 100% Sangiovese. First bottle dry and tarry, second bottle better but heavy. No medal at DWWA 29th April 2013.
CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG GRAN SELEZIONE, BADIA A PASSIGNANO | 2015 100% Sangiovese.
Badia a Passignano also has 19 hectares (37 acres) of olive groves planted with the Frantoio, Leccino, and Moraiolo olive varieties.
Bottega [shop] di Badia a Passignano, I-50016 Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FI = Firenze), Italy / Tel+39 055.8071278
Chianti Classico Anteprima 2019, Stazione Leopolda, Florence on Monday 11th February.
DWWA, Decanter World Wine Awards (blind tasting organised by Decanter magazine).