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Tignanello is produced exclusively from the vineyard of the same name, a parcel of some 140 acres (57 hectares) with limestone-rich soils and a southwestern exposure at 1150-1325 feet (350-400 meters) above sea level at the Tignanello estate. It was the first Sangiovese wine to be aged in small oak barrels, the first modern rd wine to use such non-traditional varieties as Cabernet in the blend, and among the first red wines from the Chianti Classico area to be produced without white grapes.
The wine, originally called "Chianti Classico Riserva vigneto Tignanello" (a Chianti Classico Riserva from the Tignanello vineyard), was produced for the first time from a single vineyard parcel in 1970, when the blend contained 20% of Canaiolo and 5% of Trebbiano and Malvasia, both white grapes., and the wine aged in small oak barrels. In 1971 it became a Tuscan red table wine rather than a Chianti Classico, and was called Tignanello; in the 1975 vintage the white grapes were totally eliminated from the blend. Ever since 1982, the blend has been the one currently used. Tignanello is bottled only in favorable vintages, and was not produced in 1972, 1973,1974, 1976, 1984, 1992, and 2002.
After a rainy and fairly cold autumn and winter, spring and summer 2003 will certainly be remembered as among the hottest and driest in recent years. Thanks to the dry, mild weather in spring, budding was promising and slightly earlier than average for all varieties and the conditions were subsequently excellent for flowering and fruit setting. From June onwards throughout the summer the weather conditions were unusual with very high temperatures and absolutely no rain. As a consequence, the grapes ripened early and immediately after 15th August the earliest ripening varieties showed very high sugar levels, due to a sort of natural auto-concentration. Production quantities were slightly lower due to the lack of water, especially where emergency watering was not possible. This trend continued steadily during the harvesting period, allowing us to wait for the best moment to pick the fruit, thus avoiding risks of damage to the grapes.
Given the weather the harvest began early, at least in part. Some of the Cabernet and Sangiovese grapes were already ripe by mid-September. The vinification process was able to adapt to the use of techniques better suited to the warm weather: due to the rich and extractable nature of the polyphenolic components, maceration took place at 25°C for a maximum of 7 days (for the Sangiovese) and 10 days (the Cabernet). For both varieties alcoholic fermentation took place in traditional wooden barrels. Extraction was carried out mainly using the pigeage technique very lightly given the fact that the polyphenolic components were easy to extract. The wines were racked with a few residual sugars and completed alcoholic fermentation in new French oak barriques. Malolactic fermentation took place spontaneously by the end of November in the same barriques. After malolactic fermentation the wines were blended and left in barriques for a further 12 months and racked in the air as necessary. When the ageing period was complete, the wine in each barrique was tasted and the necessary selections made, after which it was bottled. After another year ageing in bottles it was released for sale. Alcohol : 13,5% Vol.