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75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 20% Sangiovese
The favorable weather patterns at the beginning of spring favored an early budding of about one week for the various varieties. All through the spring we had excellent weather, warm temperatures and the right amount of rain, resulting in excellent flowering and the relative vegetal cycle. This optimal vegetative balance of the vines ended in full ripening between the end of July and the beginning of August, about 7 to 10 days earlier than usual. The excessive heat wave around mid August, lasting only a week, did not slow down maturation, and the first grapes gathered showed immediate promise of an excellent vintage. Due to the early ripening of the grapes, we began our "green harvest" just after mid-August, selecting and thinning to eliminate any excessive production. In conclusion, the early harvest coupled with a rainless period of picking allowed us to bring in excellent mature grapes.
The grapes from the Solaia vineyard, which are as always severely selected, were among the last to be harvested (starting September 25 for the Cabernets, and the Sangiovese a week later). The grapes were vinified separately and new methods were used which guarantee a very soft processing. Maceration took place in 50 hectoliter open wooden fermentors with periodic cap submersion for better extraction of colour, complexity and tannins. During this time (15 days for the Sangiovese and 20 days for the Cabernets), the wine completed its alcoholic fermentation at a temperature never exceeding 30°C. The wine was then transferred into 225 liter French oak barrels (new Troncais and Alliers), where malolactic fermentation was terminated by the year's end. The wines were then racked, blended and then returned to the barriques for about 14 months aging, after which time they were bottled and aged for a further 12 months before release. Alcohol : 13,5% Vol.
Solaia, which means the 'sunny one' in Italian, is a 10 hectares (25 acres) southwest-facing vineyard planted 351-396 metres (1,150-1,300 feet) above sea-level on stony calcareous soil of marl and friable albarese rock. It is located at Tignanello estate, contiguous to the homonymous vineyard, which is on the same property, in the Mercatale Val di Pesa zone of Chianti Classico. Antinori first produced a single-vineyard wine from these vines with the 1978 vintage (which was a limited release only in Italy); the initial blend was 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, which was repeated in 1979. During following vintages, 20% Sangiovese was introduced and small adjustments were made (according to vintage) to the proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc used, to arrive at today's blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 20% Sangiovese. Solaia was not produced in the 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1992 vintages.
Intensely fruity and complex with a good structure, well-balanced, with soft tannins and a lingering finish. Displays unmistakable varietal flavor while retaining strong regional character.
"Duemilavini 2004" guide Award "Cinque grappoli"
ASSOCIAZIONE ITALIANA SOMMELIER November 2003
"Vini d'Italia 2004" guide Award "Tre Bicchieri"
GAMBERO ROSSO November 2003
"Best Italian Wines 2004" guide
LUCA MARONI Nov. 2003
THE WINE SPECTATOR September 2003
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