by Fred McMillin
for February 10, 1999


Atlas Peak Ain't Meek


Palazzo Antinori,1470
Palazzo Antinori in Florence was built about 1470. It's Sangiovese-based Chianti was served both to the Holy See and the Italian Royal Family.

The new breed of Supertuscans, started in the early 1970, are giving startling results. A leader is Antinori's Sangiovese-Cabernet blends.

...Daniel Thomases, Florence, Italy

"The Antinori-owned vineyards of the Atlas Peak Winery in the Napa Valley produce an ever-improving Sangiovese-Cabernet blend called "Consenso."

...British authority Hugh Johnson, 1997 Pocket Encyclopedia

The Rest of the Story

Palazzo 300 Years Later
The Winery's Rinaldo Novello, right, met my wife and me at the Palazzo 300 years after it was completed.

My wife and I visited Antinori headquarters (see photo) when they were developing their first Supertuscans. They pointed out that while their winemaking roots are six centuries deep (see sketch), they love innovation. and sure enough. Ten years later Piero Antinori personally selected his favorite Sangiovese clones and 120 acres were planted in the Napa hills, that gave rise to "Consenso." The Italian word means "agreement" and was selected to symbolize the affinity between Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.

So, this is an important, cutting-edge wine. It should be tried by all who have even a casual interest in the evolution of a new wine.

Today's Bottle

'95 Atlas Peak Consenso Vineyard Cab
(Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend)
Label—Look for the word Consenso in red.
Vineyard—All grapes picked by hand from the terraced estate vineyard at an elevation of about 1,700 feet above the too-cool fog belt.
Food Affinities—Pork, lamb, beef.
Price—$30 range


About Atlas, in Greek mythology he was a Titan, an ancient race of giants. Keep your eye on Consenso; it may become a giant, too.

Note: For much more about the winery, see the Jan. 2, 1998 WineDay titled "Things Looked Bleak on Atlas Peak."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

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