About the Wine
The prize of the Marchesi Antinori estate is this 50 acre vineyard with southwest facing vines on top of albarese (limestone) and galestro (clay) soils. The wine is only produced in exceptional vintages and it is considered one of the blue chips in all of Italy. A blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and a small amount of Cabernet Franc, this may be one of the best ever vintages for this wine from this historic estate.
Vintage Rating: 95pts, WA
Tasting Notes: A very intense ruby red with purple highlights, the 2013 Solaia shows aromas of ripe red fruit, pleasurably fresh and vibrant, accompanied by balsamic sensation of liquorice and mint. Hints of vanilla and smoke on the aromatic close fuse with an intense spiciness to create a powerful impact. The palate, initially elegant, becomes full bodied with tannins of much shape and solidity. The finish and aftertaste are quite complex with their expressive notes of black fruit and chocolate along with an excellent savor and vigor.
The 2014 Solaia will be released during the second half of 2017. This is a fine-tuned expression that shows a focused sense of detail and careful attention. The quota of Cabernet Franc has been upped by a hair and this makes a big difference, especially in terms of the wine's bouquet. Otherwise, this celebrated Tuscan blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese. It opens to dark fruit aromas with crushed mineral, pipe tobacco, pressed flower and toasted spice. Its appearance is midnight black and profound. The wine delivers a sense of sheer excitement and nervousness that will subside with another few years of bottle age. Nonetheless, I think a certain amount of that bright edginess or rigidness will always be part of this cool vintage Solaia. In the mouth, the wine is firm, compact and dense. The tannins are chiseled to the point of sublime integration. Marchesi Antinori made 40% less Solaia in this vintage in order to maintain the quality you taste here.
If you could see the vineyards of Chianti Classico from space, I’m sure the Tignanello vineyard would be the easiest to spot. Each row has been painstakingly covered with bright white stones along the entire length of each trellis line. Large Alberese limestone rocks were crushed with a cement grinder to make smaller pebbles. The rocks glow with silver luminosity when hit by the Tuscan sunshine. The ambitious project to cover this celebrated vineyard with white stones was completed some 15 years ago and I dare not think at what cost. But the benefits gained from this unique growing system are undisputed. Like the Galet stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, these white rocks reflect light back up onto the clusters for even ripening at 450 meters above sea level. The rocks’ whiteness helps to reduce nighttime temperatures, because most of the heat is reflected off the stones during the day. This means the canopy can remain relatively low, or at a height that is easier to manage during harvest. Fresh nighttime temperatures keep the soils cool and the environment relatively disease-free. The Marchesi Antinori General Manager, Renzo Cotarella, tells me you can actually see the color difference in the grapes harvested from the white rock rows. Throughout winemaking, that fruit is always darker and the tannins are sweeter, he says. The white stones also facilitate rainwater drainage and erosion. This was a very important benefit in the 2014 vintage that saw soggy and wet conditions throughout much of the summer. ~95, WA
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