The authenticity and character of its terroir
Toscana IGT (Typical Geographical Indication)
Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Cabernet Franc 5%, Sangiovese 20%.
The Solaia vineyard is a 20 hectare (49.42 acres) vineyard planted with:
• Cabernet Sauvignon on 15 hectares (37.06 acres)
• Cabernet Franc on 1 hectare (2.47 acres)
• Sangiovese on 4 hectares (9.88 acres).
It enjoys a southwestern exposure at 1250-1325 feet (350-400 meters) above sea level and is located at our Tenuta Tignanello estate; the soil is hard limestone-rich rock known in Italian as "albarese”. The Marchesi Antinori firm produced its first vintage of this wine in 1978 with an initial blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, used once again in 1979. The blend was modified in following vintages with the introduction of 20% Sangiovese and the balance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was altered as well until the current blend was reached.
The production of Solaia is restricted to superior vintages and there was no release in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, and 1992.
Vinification and ageing:
The favourable conditions during the harvest period permitted calibrated picking operations in the Solaia vineyard, with evaluations based on judgment of the state of ripeness of the grapes and the differences of exposure and vigour of the various sectors.
The grapes of each parcel are picked separately and by hand into small packing cases and fermented in conical sixty hectolitre oak fermenters. The grapes, once in the cellar, are destemmed and carefully hand sorted to load only the finest berries into the tanks. During the fermentation phase much care and attention is given to the extraction, using only the lightest punching down of the cap of skins as well as rack and return (delestage) techniques in order to fully respect the varietal aromas and the elevated colour content of the berries. The special conical forms of the fermenters aid the extraction of sweet and elegant tannins in all three different grape varieties, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Fermentation temperatures are kept to an average of 81° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius) and never allowed to rise above 88° Fahrenheit (31° Celsius) in order to maintain the maximum aromatic character and impact of the fruit, fully present in the musts.
In 2008, the musts immediately showed a very important potential in terms of colour, structure, and varietal character, and when the wine was run off its skins, after a period of skin contact which lasted from three to four weeks, it went into seasoned oak barrels, with the intention of putting it through the malolactic fermentation before the end of the year.
The wine passes directly by gravity feed to the underground cellars for ageing in new French oak barrels (Allier and Tronçais) for a period of eighteen months; the various lots of wine are kept separate. Regular tastings from the barrels allow a constant evaluation of quality to maximize the ageing phase of the winemaking process, the objective being to fully bring out the structure, elegance, and sweetness of the tannins.
The Solaia vats are to be found in the ageing cellar with its traditional cross vault, stone ceiling, constructed in the XVIth century, at the same time as the original Villa.
The wine is finally blended and bottled, then aged for a year in the bottle before commercial release at 14° alcohol content.
The wine shows a high colour intensity, a sign which, from the very beginning, indicates its importance. The nose is ample and complex, full of fruity and varietal aromas and sensations which begin with black cherries and ripe red fruit and finish with liquorice, coffee, and toasted oak. On the palate the tannins are supple and balanced. The wine is savoury and mineral, but soft as well; its aftertaste recalls sweet notes of cocoa, vanilla, and black and red berry fruit which linger and last.
The stylistic definition of Solaia has always been directed towards the achievement of an elegant, and to some extent an austere wine, which is able to develop over time. It displays a strong character and a good ageing potential. Solaia combines fruit and spices with the liveliness of tannins. This is all with a light, tasty acidity that combines well with the sweetness of the fleshy fruit. It fully expresses the authenticity and character of its terroir.
The growing season was characterised by an autumn and a winter which were not particularly cold and with little rain, these conditions favoured a slightly early bud break compared to the preceding vintages. Spring, and the first vegetation, saw the appearance of extremely adverse meteorological conditions, with abundant and continuous rainfalls until the end of May causing a slowing of plant growth. Nonetheless, these conditions did not have harmful effects on vine health. June and July were warm and dry, while in August there were scattered rainfalls which helped the vines to sustain regular growth of both the vegetation and the grapes. The months of September and October were very favourable for harvest operations, with the added benefit of temperature swings from daytime heat to night time coolness, ensuring optimal conditions for grape quality. Sangiovese was picked during the last ten days of September, while the Cabernet continued to be harvested until the middle of October. From the very beginning of the harvest the musts showed very interesting colours and aromas, an indication of a very high level vintage.