Paolo Massimo tells us how he ended up in the winemaking industry; what makes Antinori special; and what his favourite South African variety is. See our previous introduction to Marchesi Antinori here.
Paolo, please tell us a little more about you…
I’m from Milan, in the north of Italy and studied economics. I worked in Export and later in wine for a different Italian brand, before eventually arriving up at Antinori, a flagship Italian wine business.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Wine is one of life’s great pleasures, and it often goes together with food… At Antinori, we have very good wines and combine them with very good food! What’s better than that? Exporting Italian wines is also an opportunity to work with the international image of Italy. Here art, culture, history, amazing landscapes, holidays and beauty are combined with good food and wine.
Marchesi Antinori maintains an ethos of “respect for tradition and the land”. What does this mean in reality?
Antinori is, first of all, an agricultural business; thus the land is crucial to who we are. Antinori owns only 2.000 hectares of vineyards in Italy. This is to ensure we are able to manage all activities ourselves so that we can deliver only the best quality. This approach entails intensive investment, but fits in with the long family tradition (26 generations!) of quality wine production and trade.
What is your favourite Antinori wine?
My personal preference is for the Chianti style of wines. Antinori Chiantis (like the Villa Antinori Riserva and the Pèppoli) are easy drinking – when you open a bottle, you finish it quickly! You also don’t have to eat something specific to enjoy these wines.
Antinori has extended from its base in Italy to vineyards in the USA, Romania, Chile, Malta and Hungary… We have to ask: South Africa next?
Not at the moment, no! Our core business remains very much in Tuscany, and the Chianti area in particular, and the logistics of managing an estate from afar can be quite challenging.
Antinori has been exporting to South Africa for many years. What informed this decision?
South Africa is an important wine market. Customers know about wine and local producers deliver good wines too.
What are Antinori’s top 3 sellers globally? And in South Africa?
In terms of quantity, Santa Cristina (red and white) and Villa Antinori (red and white), though we are surely most famous for Tignanello, Solaia and Cervaro. South Africa appears to be following the global trend.
What are your favourite South African wines currently?
I like Sauvignon blanc and have found a number of very good ones in South Africa. Incidentally, we have one Sauvignon from our Castello della Sala Estate in Umbria: the Conte della Vipera, a Sauvignon-Sémillion. It’s good but has a different style.
Have you spent much time travelling in South Africa?
I’ve visited a couple of times but always on business, unfortunately. The goal of this trip was to meet with Maurizio [director at Adriatic], who I’ve known for a long time, and to launch and present our wines to the South African market. I hope one day to take a trip to Durban or Cape Town though and enjoy a bit of holiday time.