October time in Greve-in-Chianti appeared to be the end of the season for the folks in this part of Tuscany. Most of the grapes had been harvested by the first week of the month.

But not so at Antinori’s major 150 hectare vineyard and Tignanello winery at Santa Maria a Macerata, as only the early harvests of sangiovese had appeared.

“We are running 15-20 days late this autumn. This has been caused by the cool weather earlier in the season, some rain then and a little more now” says Veronica Mazzoni, Antinori’s learned publicist in Tuscany.

I cannot help but look at that Solaia hill on the property; first spied in 1989 when I first visited Tuscany, 55 hectares of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc which was aged directly in barrique, and sold outside the region’s DOCG status (at higher prices too).


Well Solaia has continued on to greater things since then, and against more “international varietal Tuscan competition” of cabernet, franc, merlot, syrah and single vineyard merlot.

Antinori’s faith in Solaia was further galvanised in 2009 with the commissioning of a single, separate cellar . “There are 14 single batches/ vineyard blocks of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc in this vineyard, and therefore there are 14 new open-fermenters to make it” Veronica explains.

Solaia making is all manual; green harvesting before veraison, hand harvesting, hand sorting of whole berries on sorting tables before whole berry fermentation. All with care.

The new wine has malo-lactic in third passage oak (an unusual practice) then maturation for 14-16 months in new barrels, French oak origin of course. I did not see the forests used but imagine the three providing coopers, Saury, Seguin Moreau and Nadalie are supplying mixes of oak types to Solaia’s style requirement.

Then there is a year in bottle before going into the release cycle. The 2007 IGT, USD 210, is about to be current, 75% cabernet, 20% sangiovese, 5% franc.

In fact the original winery was built in 1973 and Antinori wine staff were just commencing their second vintage in the renovated red cellar. And what a revolutionary collection of fermentation masterpieces.


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