The History of a Great Wine

The Antinori Family

The Antinori family has been making wine for over 600 years, ever since Giovanni di Piero Antinori became part of Arte Fiorentina dei Vinattieri in 1385.

For 26 generations the family has always personally managed the business making innovative and courageous decisions, always with unwavering respect for tradition and the land.

The Antinori Palace

Tignanello Estate

The Uniqueness of a Land

At Tenuta Tignanello the Antinori have succeeded in expressing their philosophy of production: marrying traditional and modern styles, creating wines that are authentically linked to their terroir, their origin.

Tignanello Estate

Vineyard

The Tignanello estate consists of 319 hectares (788 acres) of land, 127 hectares (some 313 acres) of which are planted to vines. Two vineyard parcels are true gems: Solaia, 20 hectares or 50 acres insize, and Tignanello, 57 hectares or close to 145 acres in overall extension. The site enjoys a number of special characteristics: its high altitude, 400 meters (1325 feet) above sea level; the southwestern exposure, ideal for late-ripening varieties such as Cabernet and Sangiovese; the micro-climate; and the rocky soil, a marine loam rich in limestone and flaky clay stones from the Eocene and Miocene eras.

Tignanello Estate

Vineyard and Soil 2 葡萄园和土壤2

 

The Tignanello vineyard, as early as the 1970’s, became a sort of research station for the Antinori family. Viticultural experimentation focused on the improvement of the grapes in order to achieve fuller, more structured wines with suppler tannins. This was accomplished through higher vine density (and hence lower production per vine), canopy management, and selection of genetically superior material when planting Cabernet and Sangiovese. Cellar work aimed at creating wines with a well defined character, this to be accomplished by a rigorous selection of the better grapes both during picking and at the winery, soft pressing of the bunches to eliminate the extraction of rough tannins, and through a malolactic fermentation carried out in oak barrels. 

 

 

Solaia

Vineyard

When the initial production of Solaia began, the grape source was a parcel within the larger Tignanello vineyard. The same special characteristics as the original vineyard – altitude, soil, and exposure to the sun (which accounts for the name of the parcel and the wine: “Solaia” derives from sole, the Italian word for the sun) are also to be found in a nearby vineyard plot which, since 1997, has been integrated into the original vineyard. The Solaia vineyard, currently, consists of 20 hectares (49 acres) and is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (15 hectares), Cabernet Franc (1 hectar) and Sangiovese (4 hectares); the vines have an average of fifteen years. Vine density ranges from 5,500 to 7,200 per hectare and a low, spurred-cordon training system is used. Over the years there has been a progressive renewal of the Solaia vineyard. This has been accomplished by utilizing the many years of experience and the more extensive knowledge of the estate’s land to further bring out the personality of Solaia as a wine.

Solaia

The history

 

Solaia was first produced, almost fortuitously, in 1978

In that vintage, the Cabernet to be utilized for Tignanello (the pioneering Super Tuscan created by the Marchese Antinori firm) was of excellent quality and more substantial in quantity than usual. Marquis Piero Antinori, accordingly, decided to  ferment and age the wine of these grapes as a pure Cabernet, producing 3,600 bottles.

The initial blend of the wine was 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, and the blend was repeated in 1979. In the following vintages, 20% of Sangiovese was introduced and a few adjustments (depending on the characteristics of the individual vintage) of the balance between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were made, settling finally on the current blend.

Solaia

The initial blend of the wine was 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, and the blend was repeated in 1979. In the following vintages, 20% of Sangiovese was introduced and a few adjustments (depending on the characteristics of the individual vintage) of the balance between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were made, settling finally on the current blend.

To this date, the only other exception to this classic blend has been the 2002 vintage, when particularly difficult weather compromised the ripening and the quality of the Sangiovese, judged to be unsatisfactory for use in the Solaia blend. Only Cabernet was used in this very particular vintage. 

Solaia is only produced in superior vintages and was not produced in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1992.

Solaia

Style

 

The stylistic goal of Solaia has always been the achievement of a wine which is both elegant and, to a certain extent, austere, a wine intended to age and develop over time. The wine combines sensations of berries and spice with firm and sustaining tannins and a vibrant, tonic acidity which balances the sweetness of the fleshy fruit. It is a wine which expresses the authentic character of its zone of production, the territory in which it is born.  

Solaia

Winemaking

1.1

 

Solaia is only produced in exceptional vintages: it was not produced in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1992. In 2002 the Sangiovese did not achieve satisfactory quality for Solaia: only Cabernet grapes were used. This vintage is known as “annata diversa” (different vintage).

Solaia

Winemaking 1.2 葡萄酒酿造1.2

1.2

 

The grapes are picked by hand, usually in the three weeks between the end of September and the middle of October.

Solaia

Winemaking 1.3

1.3

 

In the cellars the grapes are selected manually then they are softly pressed. The various stages of fermentation and extraction are carried with maximum care in order to fully preserve the natural aromas and the character of the fruit, varying the dèlestage, punching down and pumping over techniques according to the concentration of the grapes. This in addition to adjusting both time and temperature according to the enological potential of the must.

Solaia

Winemaking 1.4

1.4

 

After alcoholic fermentation, Solaia goes into 225-litres (60 gallon) French oak barrels (coopered from Allier and Tronçais oak). Here, in the barrels, the wine goes through a complete malolactic fermentation which, thanks to the cellar temperature, goes forward very slowly, ensuring a full expression of the aromas and flavours. The wine is aged in barrel in the old underground cellar of Villa Tignanello 18 to 24 months and then aged for an additional year in bottle.

Solaia

Awards

 

2009

  • Wine Advocate 96+/100

2008

  • Wine Advocate 93/100
  • Wine Enthusiast 97/100

2007

  • Wine Advocate 97/100
  • Wine Spectator 94/100

2006

  • Wine Advocate 94/100
  • Wine Spectator 97/100
  • Wine Enthusiast 95/100

2005

  • Wine Advocate 96/100

2004

  • Wine Advocate 93/100
  • Wine Spectator 97/100

2003

  • Wine Spectator 95/100

Page title: 
Vintages

Subtitle: 
1987-2009

Solaia 1978

 

 

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc

 

 

A rainy spring was followed by a warm, dry summer, leading to a long and gradual ripening period which culminated in late harvest, with picking which continued well into the month of October. The wines, well balanced and with a hint of crisp, refreshing acidity, showed more finesse and aroma than power and concentration, more fragrance than fullness on the palate.  

 

Solaia 1979

 

 

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc  

 

The weather of the 1979 growing season was a rather conventional one with few surprises: mild in temperature and without particularly temperature peaks. Late August rains make a careful selection of the grapes during picking a necessity for assuring proper quality.

 

The wines of the vintage show finesse and much mineral character, some depth but, as in 1978, a more successful expression of aroma than of body and richness.

 

Solaia 1982

 

 

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc 

 

 

A warm vintage with perfectly balanced weather: daytime heat, mild  evenings, and cool nights, an ideal sequence for high quality wines. Finesse and balance characterize the wines, firm and solid in body, round and supple in their tannins, a length on the palate and aftertaste which also reflected in an important aging ability.

 

Solaia 1986

 

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese,  5% Cabernet Franc 

 

 

A vintage marked by alternating periods of warm weather and, intermittently, by rains; a sizeable a sizeable crop and September rains made careful selection during the harvest a necessary measure to insure that only the ripest grapes would be utilized for Solaia. The wines are classy and tonic, medium-bodied and polished, with the breed, but perhaps not the force, of the superior vintage. 

 

Solaia 1985

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc 

 

A classic warm vintage with virtually ideal weather from the beginning to the end of the growing season: hot and dry during the summer with mild weather, then useful light rainfall in August which brought the grapes to a perfect point of ripeness when harvesting began. A lovely crop gave potent, generous wines with velvety, supple tannins, a rich, luscious fruit, and an important aging potential. 

Solaia 1988

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

Another warm, dry vintage with high temperatures both in spring and summer and only occasional rainfall, particularly towards the end of the growing season. The grapes, well concentrated, were lower in acidity than usual, and the wines were powerful, ripe, and lightly jammy in their fruit.

Solaia 1990

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10%Cabernet Franc

 

A long ripening cycle which began early and continued through a hot, dry summer and gave a small, but high quality, crop. Berries were small and very healthy, intensely colored, and rich in sugars; the wines were structured, richly fruit, and with the lightly over-ripe personality of a hot vintage. 

Solaia 1994

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc

 

The climate of the 1994 vintage was somewhat unusual in the sustained warmth and dryness which marked the entire period from April all the way through the harvest. Much summer heat was fortunately balanced by cooler evenings and nights, and these daily temperature swings produced concentrated grapes with a vibrant, refreshing acidity. The wines are concentrated and balanced, spicy and sweet, solid yet silky in their tannins, and with a superior aging ability. 

Solaia 1987

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc 

 

Summer rains swelled the berries and the crop, though well ripened by a hot August and September, was a substantial one; much attention was needed during the selection process to achieve quality goals.  The wines show poise and balance, some polish and finesse, but less force and concentration and a more limited aging potential than more successful vintages.  

Solaia 1989

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc 

 

A very dry, mild winter led to a noticeably early bud break and flowering, while July and August, instead, were rainy. Maximum care in the selection of the grapes was needed at harvest time due to rather irregular ripening and color intensity. This vintage produced a somewhat less concentrated Solaia, one with good acidity but also with somewhat less ageing potential compared to better vintages 

Solaia 1991

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc 

 

A cool spring was followed by a warm, dry summer which allowed ripening to proceed at a normal pace after an initial delay. Crop thinning in August was of further assistance and allowed harvesting to substantially anticipate October rains. The wines, balanced and of good length, are well suported by the tannins and have shown a good aging potenntial. 

Solaia 1993

 

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Franc 

 

A hot, dry summer more than compensated for spring rains, and both color change (in August) and picking arrived ahead of schedule. As in 1991, crop thinning was of major help in accelerating ripening and avoiding end of season rains. In style, the wines resemble those of 1991 as well, with much fragrance and finesse, more interesting in terms of grace and aroma than in fullness and flesh.  

Solaia 2002

 

90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc 

 

Rains characterized both the initial and the middle period of the 2002 growing season, creating problems both for the pace of ripening and for the health of the grapes. The final – and critical - three weeks of the season – were quite irregular, favorable at the beginning, then marked by heavy rainfall towards the end. The Sangiovese grapes did not reach satisfactory ripeness levels and were excluded from the final blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, though picked eight days later than usual, were severely selected and gave wines which were fermented and aged in normal fashion. The wine shows more liquorice and spice than fruit on the nose and more elegance than structure on the palate. 

Solaia 2003

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

2003 was one of the warmest and driest vintages of the entire postwar period, with sustained and unrelenting heat during the entire summer and well into the early part of fall. Ripening was well ahead of schedule, and the arrival of a certain nighttime coolness at the end of the cycle assisted the grapes in achieving significant levels of color and structure when picking began.

The wine, with the classic firm and sustained tannins of a hot vintage, is also balanced, and the notes of red berry fruit and of spice are well present both on the nose and on the palate.

Solaia 1996

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

1996 swung somewhat erratically from a cool beginning to a summer of sustained heat, then  interrupted by cooler and damper weather in the final phases. Crop thinning and a careful selection during picking resulted in healthy and aromatic grapes which gave a concentrated wine of much length, much fruit, and a substantial balance in its structure and tannins. 

Solaia 1998

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

A mild winter, May rains, and a hot, sunny summer were the distinguishing characteristics of the 1998 vintage. Summer dryness delayed ripening and the harvest, preceding by an August crop thinning, took place only a week earlier than usual despite the heat. The grapes, well concentrated, were harvested at excellent ripeness levels and the wines, though with tannins and fruit comparable to the 1996 Solaia, are more intense and powerful. An underrated vintage, obscured by the greater fame of the 1997 wines, but one with a fine aging potential.

Solaia 2000

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

Excellent spring and summer weather led to much balance between grapes and foliage in the vineyard. Sustained heat arrived in mid-August, accelerating ripening, and picking was already under way in mid-September, ten days earlier than usual. The wines are more potent than elegant, sweet in their fruit with a hint of over-ripeness, but less tonic and mineral in character. 

Solaia 2005

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

A vintage which alternated periods of warmth and coolness: mild in the spring, lower than usual in temperature during the summer months and with periods of rain in August. September warmth completed the ripening cycle and the grapes, at harvest, were healthy and sweet, fully up to the standards of successful vintages and with a significant aging potential.  

Summer coolness was perceptible in the mineral notes in the wine, more evident than the power, and in the freshness, the length, and the satiny tannins. An ample fruitiness added elegance and continuity and a promise of ample longevity

Solaia 2008

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

Complicated early weather, often either cold and rainy and at times both, gave way warmth and sunshine during the summer months; both the Cabernet and the Sangiovese developed very well indeed. Both September and October weather – harvesting was notably later than usual – were highly favorable both in terms of the final ripening and in the climatic conditions during the picking. High temperatures in late August and early September assisted in creating the sweet tannins which characterize the vintage.

Solaia 1995

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc 

 

An anomalous and highly irregular growing season, cool and rainy during the summer , climatic conditions which significantly hampered the ripening process. Warm and sunny weather only returned after September  20th, accompanied by north winds which refreshed and shrunk the grapes; a very careful selection brought healthy, high quality grapes to the cellar. Higher than average natural acidity gave wines with a very ample and complex aromatic range featuring notes of liquorice and white pepper.

Solaia 1997

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

A vintage characterized by a lengthy period of dry weather from the beginning to the end of the  cycle of the vine. A warm spell which began in summer and continued through the month of September, leading to an early harvest; the grapes benefitted as well from cool evenings and nights which assured frehsness and personality. Ripe and balanced grapes gave elegant wines, rich in fruit, vibrant in their mineral notes, well sustained and crisp. An exceptional vintage indeed.

 

Solaia 1999

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

After a somewhat cool and rainy early season and occasional rains during the early summer, excellent September weather fully ripened  the grapes; proper thinning of a substantial crop also assisted in achieving superior grapes and a wine of much elegance and finesse. The 1999 Solaia, silky in its tannins, tasty in its flavors, and very fragrant, is not the most powerful vintage of the wine, but impresses with its subtlety and expressiveness. 

Solaia 2001

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

A warm spring with ample rainfall was followed by a highly favorable summer with high daytime temperatures and significantly cooler evenings and nights. Ripening, accordingly, was perfect and the harvest took place under excellent conditions. The wine is very well balanced in its combinations of black berry fruit, spice, and mineral notes. Supple in its body, silky and sensual in its tannins, the wine shows a very promising aging ability. 

Solaia 2004

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

After a cold winter, warm spring and summer temperatures and adequate rainfall assisted in a regular, steady growth and development in the vineyard; summer heat was balanced by cooler evenings and nights, always a positive factor for the grapes. Occasional rain during the final phases of the harvest was of no significance for the quality of the crop, high level due to the long growing season. The wines show a tonic, vibrant acidity and feature an elegant, balanced structure with savory mineral sensations on the palate. Abundant fruit and much length promise an excellent aging ability. Quality was exceptionally high, and the 2004 vintage will undoubtedly be numbered among the finest of the last three decades.  

Solaia 2006

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

Severe climatic conditions during the winter and occasional springtime rain had little effect on the ripening cycle, as much warmth in July, September, and October more than compensated for the less favorable earlier phases. The grapes were harvested at high levels of ripeness, and the wines which resulted are characterized by their power and concentration, by tannins with are firm and sustained, yet vibrant and sweet at the same time. Classic in character and quality, the 2006 Solaia is elegant and mineral and will unquestionably age extremely well over time.  

Solaia 2007

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

The 2007 vintage was a rather unusual one in its combination of a long growing season and, at the same time, an early harvest. An anomaly which can be explained by an exceptionally mild winter and an unusually precocious development in all of the phases of the ripening cycle of the vine. Summer heat was checked by a cooler August with occasional afternoon rainstorms, and the harvest saw grapes of perfect ripeness and healthiness. A crop of impeccable quality, well reflected in the wines, which combine power and elegance to an unusual degree. Intense black fruit aromas are given an additional complexity by the notes of white pepper and spice; firm, sweet tannins characterize the textured, ample palate, warm but with a refreshing minerality on the finish and aftertaste. Class and austerity define this outstanding vintage and a wine with decades of life ahead of it.   

 

Solaia 2009

 

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc

 

2009 saw another cold winter which, fortunately, passed without negative effect on the flowering and bud set. Abundant rainfall at the beginning of the summer swelled the grapes and stimulated the growth of vegetation, requiring intensive canopy management to control the growth of the crop. High heat characterized the later part of the summer and brought the grapes to proper ripeness levels for the harvest. The wines themselves, though ample and sustained, are characterized more by elegance, finesse, and fragrance than by the power of the 2007 and 2008 vintages. The tannins are very polished and velvety, and the continuity on the palate promises an interesting future as the wines age. The Cabernet varietal notes are quite prominent, and are supported by notes of coffee, mint, chocolate, and liquorice. 

 

Solaia