The Temple of Wine. Mimesis between Architectural Sign and Nature

Cantina Antinori
Cantina Antinori, Archea Associati, 2013, view of Rinuccio 1180 restaurant, photo credit Pietro Savorelli.

If you have the opportunity to travel the Firenze-Siena clearway in the direction of Siena, when you get to the Bargino exit you will see what look like two cuts in the hill, two “almost natural” fissures surrounded by vineyards.

Cantina Antinori, Archea Associati, fissures in the hill. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Looking more carefully, you will see that the fissures are not natural at all, but man-made. What you are seeing are two of the three basements of the marvellous Cantina Antinori, the most important work of contemporary architecture in Tuscany of the last decade. Designed by Archea Associati and inaugurated in 2013, Cantina Antinori is a veritable temple of wine, built with natural materials including brick, wood and glass. The structure is a reddish-brown hue that harmonises beautifully with its natural surroundings. Built into the hill, the architectural complex is marked by a low environmental impact and high energy efficiency, making it eligible to join the Toscana Wine Architecture network of design-led wineries built by masters of contemporary architecture.

Cantina Antinori, Archea Associati, spiral staircase. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Entering through a large gate and after two sharp turns, the road transforms into an underground tunnel leading to the parking lot in the heart of the hill, which is filled with natural light entering from a striking spiral staircase. The staircase leads to the entrance terrace and then the roof, where you will find the room where the grapes are delivered, rooms for winemaking and, lastly, the Rinuccio 1180 restaurant, which takes its name from the founder of the Antinori family and looks out over the vineyard-covered countryside of Chianti Classico. Here, you can enjoy contemporary versions of traditional Tuscan dishes made using seasonal ingredients and accompanied by a wide selection of Marchesi Antinori wines.

Cantina Antinori
Cantina Antinori, Archea Associati, 2013, wine cellars. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

We suggest starting your exploration of the family’s history and activity (the company, the headquarters of which are at the winery, is currently led by the oldest daughter of the marchese Piero Antinori, Albiera, supported by her sisters Allegra and Alessia) with a tour of the wine cellars. The tour ends with a wine tasting, selected from among four different types depending on how passionate you are about wine.

Before ending your visit with a meal at the restaurant, we recommend visiting the art collection, which includes old works (collected by the family starting in the 14th century) and contemporary ones commissioned from such artists as Yona Friedman, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Jorge Peris, Rosa Barba and Tomás Saraceno for the Antinori Art Project. You will have already admired many of them during your tour of the winery.

Tomás Saraceno, Biosphere 06, cluster of 3, Cantina Antinori. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Find out other tips that talk about