Thursday, February 8, 2018

Tasting Antinori's Solaia 2014 at West Palm Wines

Mark Lasky at West Palm Wines (Tampa, FL) invited me over to taste the 2014 vintage of Antinori's Solaia. The wine was presented by Erik Saccomani, Antinori Ambassador for the Southeast US. I provide some background on the estate and my impressions of the wine herein.

The Antinori family's current Italian holdings include estates spread over Tuscany and Umbria, with four of the seven Tuscan properties falling within the Chainti Classico DOCG. One of these four estates is Tignanello, the joint home of Antinori's Tignanello and Solaia wines.

Tignanello is located 30 km (19 miles) south of Florence and its 319 ha (788 acres) supports 127 ha (320 acres) of vineyards of which 20 ha (50 acres) is dedicated to the production of Solaia ("the sunny one") fruit. The Solaia vineyard is planted on limestone and calcareous clay rock (albarese) at altitudes ranging between 348 and 400 m (1175 and 1325 feet) on southwest-facing slopes. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (15 ha), Sangiovese (4 ha), and Cabernet Franc (1 ha) with an average vine age of 15 years. The vines are low spurred-cordon trained and are planted at between 5500 and 7200 vines/ha.

Solaia, an IGT-clasified wine, was first produced in 1978, a production run of 3600 bottles with a composition of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. The wine was not produced in 1980 or 1981 but, beginning with the 1982 vintage, the blend was shifted to 20% Sangiovese with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varied according to the requirements of the winemaker. In 2002, the wine was made of an all-Cabernet blend because the Sangiovese was deemed to be of insufficient quality. The standard blend in today's Solaia is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

The 2014 Vintage
According to Renzo Cotarella, Chief Enologist,
The vintage was characterized by mild and damp climatic conditions during the winter followed by dry and mild weather in the spring season which assisted a good flowering and berry set. The summer, somewhat unstable and with a little more rainfall than usual, slowed the processes of veraison and ripening of the grapes. During the first couple of weeks of September, warm and sunny days re-balanced the situation.
The Wine
The grapes were hand-harvested and, given the growing conditions, yields were 40% lower than the prior year. Imperfect grapes were shed both in the vineyard and at the sorting table. The varieties were fermented with indigenous yeasts in conical fermentation tanks with the cap managed via punch downs.

Each variety was fermented separately. At the completion of fermentation, the wines were gravity-flowed to barriques for malolactic fermentation and aging. Each wine was aged for 18 months and blended just prior to bottling.

On the nose, violets, olives, blackpepper, an oily richness, curry, and a rocky minerality. Not as full and structured on the palate as I have become accustomed to with this labal. Red fruit.Very approachable. Lean. Minerality works its way through to the palate. Thin and short on the finish. This wine is not a good candidate for cellaring.

The mantra is that Solaia is made only in the best years. I am not sure that this was one of the best years.
©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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