The Marchesi Antinori family are world famous for two wines; one is Tignanello the other Solaia, which since 1978 has become Antinori’s and one of Italy’s most prestigious wines. Solaia is a mirror reflection of Tignanello made up of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Sangiovese, Tignanello is the exact opposite. In 2010 the blend includes 5% Cabernet Franc, used in some vintages to balance the wine, reducing the percentage of Sangiovese to 20% and the result is that “The 2010 Solaia is even better than the Tignanello (96 points)”. Galloni conducted a vertical tasting of Solaia back to 1978 and proclaimed 2010 as their best ever wine.
Solaia translates loosely as ‘The sunny one’, aptly named to reflect the glorious sunshine that showers the eponymously named ten hectare vineyard;situated 350-400 metres above sea level, on wonderful terroir of calcareousrock (alberese). The site is adjacent to Tignanello in the Mercatale Val di Pesa zone of Chianti Classico, further inland than Sassiaia and Ornellaia (coastal Bolgheri) and the wine is famed for intense sweet ripe cherry and blackcurrant fruits, combined with dark chocolate, baking spices, rum cake, balsam, and tobacco.
It is interesting to note that the name Antinori can be traced to Homer’s Iliad where Prince Antenor was spared his life for allowing the wooden horse ‘bearing gifts’ to enter the gates of Troy. He fled Troy and travelled up the Adriatic to establish Venice. It is from this lineage that the House of Antinori derives their name. The Antonori family have just opened a multimillion dollar underground edifice including a museum, restaurant and tasting area just outside Florence which has been described by Angelo Gaja as “the most revolutionary event in modern Italian wine”.