In the heart of Chianti Classico sits Antinori’s Tenuta Tignanello estate. It’s the unquestioned heart of the Antinori empire and sits not far from the family’s palatial residence in Florence. The estate boasts some of the most advantageous vineyard exposition in Tuscany and stretches over 780 acres, of which slightly more than 300 are devoted to vines.
Of those, two vineyard parcels are exceptionally regarded: Vigneto Tignanello and Vigneto Solaia. Since the mid to late 1970’s, Piero Antinori has been pushing the customary boundaries of dogma and in many ways, the wines that hail from these vineyards have done more to shape vinous landscape than any other wines in Tuscany.
Despite its pedigree, the Vigneto Solaia has undergone constant renewal. Today, the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (15 hectares) Cabernet Franc (1 hectare) and Sangiovese (4 hectares) and the average age of the vines is about 18 years. The personality of Solaia is testament to the vineyard site and the careful selection of fruit and methods used in production.
Like many great things (i.e. Champagne) the creation of Solaia was a fortuitous accident. The 1978 vintage yielded an abundant, excellent harvest and the Cabernet typically destined for Tignanello was more than required. Antinori decided to bottle the remaining fruit as a single wine with a small addition of Cabernet Franc. Shortly thereafter, the decision to add Sangiovese to the blend was made and a new standard for excellence born.
The 2015 Antinori Solaia is a herculean wine that will surely take its place among the greatest Solaia of all time. Having reviewed many vintages of this wine over the last 2 decades its hard to find the accolades to bestow. My review of the 1999 Solaia in 2019 tells me that in 15 years time, the subject of today’s review will simply be a masterpiece.
I did not decant the wine but opened it about 90 minutes before dinner. In the glass it is an almost impenetrable blackish purple color with a hairline violet ring around the rim of the bowl. The aromas are stunning. Crushed black berry, black plum, violet, mint, green tobacco leaf and crushed stone are simply breathtaking.
On the palate, the complexity and purity of this wine are amazing at this young stage. Loads of plump, viscous black fruits coat your palate from front to back. Cedar, tobacco, herbs, cypress and coffee are wonderfully arranged and backed by toasted spice and hints of oak. The idea that this will get better once the caressing wall of tannins softens somewhat is virtually the only reason why this doesn’t join my 100 point club. That is the smallest of nits to pick. If you love this wine, don’t miss adding a bottle to your cellar. 99 points. Find this wine.
As an aside, although I haven’t reported on it yet, if your option to this wine is the 2016 Solaia, I would recommend that one just as highly. It’s another outstanding vintage and I’d expect nothing but an equivalent effort.