Length is a subjective term. The drive from Carmignano to Castellina isn’t far. As the crow flies, maybe it’s a 45 minute ride. However, the crow rarely flies straight in Italy and this particular sojourn would not prove to be an exception. After tasting and having lunch at Piaggia, we had plans to meet a friend in Castellina for the evening. So off we went, knowing full well that we would have plenty of time to shop and explore in Castellina once we arrived. When the charming, winding, crooked crow road took us right past Casa Emma, I hit the brakes. Hard. So hard in fact that my lovely napping wife was jolted awake. But see, this was an important stop because of all the delicious wine Casa Emma crafts, there is one that can only be purchased at the winery and I wasn’t about to miss my chance. Today, we’re discussing one of those purchases.
The Casa Emma estate sits on the winding Strada Provinciale di Castellina in Chianti at 420 meters above sea level. The majority of the estate’s plantings are devoted to classic Tuscan varietals including Sangiovese, but also Malvasia Nera and Canaiolo. These are used to craft a wonderful Chianti Classico and a delicious Gran Selezione but perhaps the hidden gem is their Soloio. Literally meaning “Only Me” the more subjective translation may be “I’m all alone” and is a reference to the fact that Soloio is 100% Merlot.
The estate and it’s vineyards are manicured works of art sitting in a natural amphitheater surrounded by lush forest. The “wood” as Tuscans will often refer to forests helps to protect the vineyards from the extremes of weather, but also perfumes the surrounding air with porcini, cypress and wild roses. I’ve written many times that I am especially enamored with Tuscan Merlot and that is often times a love-hate relationship. You see, excellent ones that are affordable are not easy to come by. The best examples are well over $100 and most are made in small quantity. That said, I still remain especially fond of Petrolo’s Galatrona and Emma’s Soloio.
The 2012 Casa Emma Soloio is wonderful. A deep dark garnet trending to black at the core, the edges of the bowl fade to a deep violet. Violet is the name of the game on the nose too, as floral aromas are punctuated with soft chestnut, dark crushed plum, mint and Tuscan brush. It’s divine to smell. On the palate, the texture of the wine almost steals the show from the flavors. Well, sometimes it does – that’s how darn silky this thing is. Crushed black plums, dried porcini, spices and fresh herbs are wonderfully wrapped in velvet. There is nothing not to like here. It’s an exceptional wine in a vintage that produced some awkward wines; especially in Central Tuscany. This is drinking very well now. Pull it out over the holidays while the 2010 and 2015s rest in your cellar. Hint, stay tuned for an early look at the 2015 in the coming weeks. 94 points. About $50. Available at the winery or Find this wine.