A groundbreaking Italian red

2013 Tignanello, Marchesi Antinori, Tuscany, Italy

2013 Tignanello, Marchesi Antinori, Tuscany, Italy About £75, various wine merchants and wine brokers.

I was asked, at short notice, to put together an elite-level France v Italy tasting the other day. While hastily lining up ten wines, all in pairs, to go head to head, I came across some 2004 Vieux Château Certan and felt it would be the perfect wine in the “Bordeaux-style” category to represent France: one of my favourite estates in the world, a superb vintage and drinking perfectly.

What could Italy offer to challenge this extraordinary Pomerol? I plumped for one of Italy’s most famous and pioneering labels – the groundbreaking, Super-Tuscan hero Tignanello. Once a Chianti Classico, this stylish wine decided to break the local wine rules by using French barrels to mature its sangiovese. It also introduced Bordeaux grapes cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc into the mix.

The first release in 1971 provoked a storm of controversy but also gained it a legion of new admirers. Over the years this wine has finessed its offering and grown production. With some 20,000 cases being made each year I’m confident you will be able to find stock easily online.

The 2013 Tignanello is already drinking beautifully, and it floored the guests at my event with its super-suave tannins and dreamy fruit. I will not be so crass as to tell you which wine won this particular round, but needless to say it was a very close run thing.