2011 Solaia, Antinori, Tuscany, Italy
Monica Larner - 31/10/2014
About this WINE
Antinori is the most famous name in Italian wine and the influence of Piero Antinori in the last 25 years has been nothing short of revolutionary. Antinori's flagship wine, Tignanello, first appeared in 1971 and caused a sensation by its use of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Sangiovese blend and with its practice of ageing in small French barriques. Antinori was accused of vinous treachery and treason but soon barrique-aged blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet began appearing all across Tuscany.
Solaia is a Cabernet-dominated blend, which, like Tignanello, is from the Santa Cristina estate and is stunningly rich. Tenuta Belvedere is in Bolgheri on the Mediterranean coast .
The Guado al Tasso estate is also part of the small, prestigious Bolgheri DOC zone which has been famous for its Rosé wines since the Seventies: along with the white wines made here, they were awarded the DOC in 1984, which was extended to the reds in 1994. The area is now best-known and admired for its outstanding red wines, the so-called Super-Tuscans. The estate covers over 1,000 hectares, 300 of which are planted with vineyards, and the rest with wheat, sunflowers and olives
Tenuta Guado al Tasso was part of feudal lands of about 4,048 hectares along about 7km of coast and belonged to the Della Gherardesca family, whose roots in this region date back to over 1,200 years ago. In the Thirties the land was inherited by Carlotta della Gherardesca Antinori - mother of Piero Antinori - and her sister, who was married to Mario Incisa della Rocchetta (who took possession of the nearby Tenuta San Guido). There were seven castles on the estate, four of which are still standing, and 86 watchtowers, built 1000 years ago to protect the family from Saracen invaders from the African coast.
There are currently 300 hectares of vineyards at Tenuta Guado al Tasso, situated at an altitude of 45-60m a.s.l. on various types of soil. The varieties planted are Vermentino (a grape variety native to the coastal area of Liguria and northern Tuscany, which has also flourished for many years in Corsica and Sardinia), Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. There are also small quantities of other varieties including Cabernet Franc.
Many ideas and resources have been invested in the Guado al Tasso estate, for constant research into improved quality: as a result, a nursery for rooted cuttings was created here in 1994, mainly for the propagation of Vermentino, but also to produce the best possible selections of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for use in other Antinori estates.
The mitigating influence of the Mediterranean prevents drastic temperature variations and the vines flower and ripen early, thanks to the stable, fairly warm microclimate with its extraordinary light during the final phases of ripening. Thanks to the microclimate of the "Bolgheri amphitheatre", harvesting takes place early here, about two weeks before the Chianti harvest.
The Guado al Tasso estate makes Scalabrone (Bolgheri Rosato DOC) from Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah, Vermentino di Bolgheri DOC, a monovarietal Vermentino (made for the first time in 1996) and since 1990, the Guado al Tasso Bolgheri DOC Superiore from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.
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2011 Solaia has a ripe, perfumed nose with sweet plum, blueberry, morello cherry and cassis notes. It is a nose that really confirms the favourable growing conditions they had in 2011, there was clearly an abundance of healthy grapes. The palate is less flamboyant than the nose, which at this stage of its evolution can only be a good thing. The cassis and blueberry show again with a really pleasing acidity that gives the wine a lovely definition and flow. It is mouthfilling and stylish with herb and cedar notes on the finish rounding things off beautifully.
Matt Tipping, Fine Wine Sales Manager
We often taste wines which leap out of the glass, but 2011 Solaia does this with a vengeance. On the nose there is a beautifully crafted wall of complex blackcurrant and juicy dark fruit from the pure, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. Laced within this are light, deft touches of subtle cherry and dark plum fruit coming from the Sangiovese. On the palate this purity is clear to see again where there further complexity comes from the refined and framing oak. As the fruit of the palate seamlessly moves into the structure and body of the wine there are notes of coffee, fine chocolate and a whole span of herbs and spices – nutmeg, cloves but also sage and rosemary to name but a few. There is no doubt that this is a bold wine if you take it as a whole, but there is a very uncommon level of refinement and subtly here. 2011 Solaia can be drunk now such is the finesse and subtly of the tannins but I feel that if you can leave this in the cellar even for 2 or 3 years there will be added layers of complexity ensuring that this is a very special wine indeed.
Gary Owen, Private Account Manager
Another triumph from the superb 2011 vintage in Bolgheri, Tuscany. Stunningly rich and focussed, the high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend is clear to see. Lifted and pure cassis fruit dominates the nose, supported by plum, rip Antinori is the most famous name in Italian wine and the influence of Piero Antinori in the last 25 years has been nothing short of revolutionary. Antinori's flagship wine, Tignanello, first appeared in 1971 and caused a sensation by its use of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Sangiovese blend and with its practice of ageing in small French barriques. Antinori was accused of vinous treachery and treason but soon barrique-aged blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet began appearing all across Tuscany.
Solaia, a twenty hectare (50 acre) vineyard of the Tignanello estate with a south-western exposure, is situated at 350-400 meters (1175-1325 feet) above sea level on a soil of calcareous rock (known as “alberese in Tuscany). The Marchesi Antinori firm produced this wine for the first time in the 1978 vintage with an initial blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, a blend repeated again in 1979. In the following vintages 20% of Sangiovese was added to the Cabernet grapes and the ratio of Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon was changed in order to create a wine which has now become definitive in its various composing elements.
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