Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2018 Magnum
• Domaine: Solaia
• Appellation: Toscana IGT
• Classification: Tuscany, Italy
Few Italian wines have as sterling a reputation as Solaia. Solaia is the gold standard of Super Tuscan. For those who love a richly dense wine that sings a symphony of fruit, floral, and herbal aromas – look no further than this monumental wine. Super Tuscan was a term coined to identify a new category of red wines from Tuscany, one that differs from other Tuscan wines (like Chianti) by blending in grapes that are not indigenous to Italy.
The Chianti region experienced more than its fair share of troubles after World War II. Quality of the wines was low. But some vigneri wanted more. Marchesi Antinori was one of them. Considered one of the Godfathers of the Super Tuscan movement that took the world by storm in the 1970s and 1980s, Marchesi Antinori comes from a family with a long line of winemakers dating back to the 14th century. He was one of the originals who decided to break the rules of only using indigenous varietals (like Sangiovese) to make red wines. Instead, he and his cohorts embraced the non-indigenous grape varietals, grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, which are famously used by winemakers in Bordeaux to perfection.
These non-indigenous grapes were actually well-suited to the Tuscan climate and had their own unique expressiveness due to the richly distinctive Italian terroir just outside the Chianti district. Though the bureaucracy overseeing Italian wine legislation initially balked at such an idea and classified these wines as vino di tavola – or “table wine,” Marchesi would not let this insult deter him from producing a world-class red wine, powerful enough to compare with the grand vin of Bordeaux. Through the pioneering success of Tignanello and Solaia, the new style of red wines from Tuscany won the world over. Thus, the “Super Tuscan” was born!
The sunniest part of Tiganello’s estate is where the Solaia vineyard rests. Only the choicest parcels are reserved for this wine. The grapes are tended to with utmost care and precision prior to being vinified in this unique blend. The vines rest on a steeply sloping hillside mixed with limestone and schist soils. There is a deep bed of clay, and the vines are able to draw water from them during drought-ridden years. They enjoy warmer temperatures during the day, and cooler temperatures at night. In addition to foreign varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, some indigenous Sangiovese vines are also planted. The Antinori family brings a mixture of traditional Italian know-how with a spirit of innovation to making Solaia. It is fermented in conical wood vats to preserve the wine’s softness, and aged in French oak barriques. The goal is to create a wine with power and well-integrated tannins.
Solaia is one of the tastemakers in Italy and considered one of the most influential wines to come out of that region. The wine cemented the Antinori family's reputation as one of the leaders of Italian viticulture. They have now expanded to be present globally, recently setting their sights on Napa and producing world-class wines including the Antica A26 Chardonnay and their single vineyard Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Considered by Decanter Magazine to be “a cellaring classic,” Solia is a benchmark wine with great length, intensity and ageing potential.
"The Marchesi Antinori 2018 Solaia reveals a silky and elegant personality, and the wine steps away from some of the more robust fruit weight and dark concentration that we've seen in the past. This elegant vintage prizes fruit purity and focus with black plum, cassis, blue flower, pencil shaving and lots of sweet spice from the oak that recalls clove and toasted almond. The blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller parts Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. The fruit is harvested at the Antinori family's Tenuta Tignanello at the heart of the Chianti Classico appellation. The percentage of Cabernet Franc used in the blend is the ultimate Solaia wild card. In this vintage, the Franc has been increased to 7%, and that number is expected to be even higher in 2019 as the vines get older and the fruit more complex. Production of Solaia is 65,000 bottles in this vintage. This is a beautiful wine, but if pressed I must admit a preference for the 2018 Tignanello (the other celebrated wine crafted at this property). The 2018 Solaia is delicious on all fronts as expected, but the 2018 Tignanello struck at my heart strings. Either way, these are stunning results." - Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate, Rating: 97+, Drink: 2023-2050
"Antinori’s 2018 Solaia captures all of the elegance of this important vintage. The bouquet alone is mesmerizing. It speaks to the stunning beauty and pedigree of Cabernet Sauvignon as grown at the Antinori family’s Tignanello property. Sweet scents of crème de cassis, lavender, graphite, mint, spice and espresso lead into a fine, delineated palate. Bright and energetic, Solaia is decidedly medium in body in 2018, with striking purity and exceptional beauty. I can’t remember ever tasting a young Solaia with this much sheer appeal and balance in the early going. In 2018 Solaia is 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese and 7% Cabernet Franc. Production is down to around 60,000 bottles because of strict selection." - Antonio Galloni, Vinous (2/2021), Ratings: 98, Drink: 2026-2038
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