Solaia has been one of Italy's most brilliant wines since the early eighties. Crated in a Bordeaux-like style, it will age for two decades or more. Cabernet Sauvignon composes the majority of the blend, followed by Sangiovese then Cabernet Franc.
Solaia, which means the ’sunny one’ in Italian
, is a 10 hectares (25 acres) southwest-facing vineyard planted 351-396 metres (1,150-1,300 feet) above sea-level on stony calcareous soil of marl and friable albarese rock. It is located at Santa Cristina, contiguous to the Tignanello vineyard, which is on the same property, in the Mercatale Val di Pesa zone of Chianti Classico.
Antinori first produced a single-vineyard wine from these vines with the 1978 vintage (which was a limited release only in Italy); the initial blend was 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, which was repeated in 1979. During following vintages, 20% Sangiovese was introduced and small adjustments were made (according to vintage) to the proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc used, to arrive at today’s blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 20% Sangiovese. Solaia was not produced in the 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1992 vintages.
It competes as Italy’s most prestigious blend and is the flagship wine of her most celebrated producer. The golden child of Piero Antinori and esteemed enologist Giacomo Tachis, whose magic touch has graced Italy’s most elite Super Tuscans (Sassicaia, Tignanello, Sammarco, Argiano among others), the wine started in 1978 as a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and grew in 1982 to include Sangiovese. The grapes used to make this “sunny one” are grown exclusively in the vineyard of the same name, a highly desirable 10 hectare patch of land on the Tignanello estate, which is also home to the eponymous wine.
The 1978 debut was limited to its homeland, but once this life-changing wine ventured out internationally, it entranced wine enthusiasts worldwide. Still produced only in good vintages, Solaia was crowned the Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator back in 2000 (for the 1997 vintage) and has collected the prestigious Tre Bicchieri award from the Gambero Rosso for eleven separate vintages. Consistency in quality!
The individual varieties 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc exhibit their unique qualities yet meld seamlessly here, allowing the character of the terroir to shine through. A fruit-forward wine with impressive structure and balance, Solaia is supported by velvety tannins and stretches into a long finish.