Length is a subjective term. No, this isn’t going to divulge into some tangent or arc about size mattering. 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 to spend the evening with. So off we went, knowing full well that we would have plenty of time to “kill” (seems an odd phrase to use when discussing Tuscany) once we got to Castellina. 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.
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 I” 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 a manicured work 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 was told in advance that no appointment was necessary to stop in and taste and the hosts in the small room next to the cellar were generous with their time and attention. After tasting, we leisurely toured the estate and cellars. As we were not at all hungry, we didn’t take advantage of Casa Emma’s quaint Osteria on the property but I can recommend it. The elevated outdoor patio is covered and overlooks the vineyards. It’s an enchanting spot to enjoy a casual lunch.
Two vintages of Soloio is were available for tasting, the 2010 and the 2012. Even though I was fairly certain I was going to buy the wine, I wasn’t about to let a chance to taste go by. We began with the 2012.
The 2012 Soloio is a deep violet colored Merlot with a slight fade to ruby at the rim of the bowl. The wines had been opened for several hours by the time we arrived and were very expressive. Aromatically, the 2012 displays notes of black plums, cypress, flowers and vanilla. The finesse on the palate is impressive. High toned crushed plum and cherry notes are prevalent with fresh herbs, sweet tobacco and a long, dusty terra cotta and dark chocolate finish. It’s what I remember about this wine. It’s why it’s unique. 93 points. $60 Euro at the winery.
The 2010 Soloio is a deep ruby in the glass and displays purple reflections throughout. It appears a bit darker than the 2012 and also displays a bit more ruby at the rim. Tighter in the glass, the 2010 displays black plum, crushed clay, pine and perfume aromas. On the palate, the difference in the structure compared to the 2012 is notable. This is more masculine. Full bodied black fruit flavors are accented by leather, tobacco and sage. The tannins are much more noticeable but are still velvety and well integrated. Drink the 2012 and let this rest for another 1-2 years in the cellar. 94 points. $80 Euro from the winery.
As I mentioned, Soloio is 100% Merlot that is fermented and aged in French barrique for 18 months. 12 months bottle aging, at a minimum, follows before release. About 4,500 bottles per vintage are produced.
Want to learn more about this winery? Go here: Casa Emma