A memorable Father’s Day gift is a bottle of Antinori’s extraordinary 2004 Solaia.
Antinori is one of the most regal names in the wine world. The family-owned wine company is headed by the noble and notable Marchese Piero Antinori, supported by what I call his A Team: daughters Albiera, Allegra and Alessia.
Six centuries ago, Giovanni di Piero Antinori was a member of the “Arte Fiorentina dei Vinattieri” or “Vinter’s Guild”; 26 generations of Antinoris have continued producing wines from their Tuscan vineyards since that inscription in 1385.
In the 1970s, this dedication reached a new height when Piero Antinori brought Tuscany into the modern winemaking age with the creation of Solaia and its sister wine, Tignanello. Solaia has been one of my favorite wines since my first glass of it in the early 1980s. My only Solaia regret is I didn’t start collecting it until a decade later.
That omission was temporarily cured a few weeks ago when I sat with Piero Antinori and tasted Solaia from its first vintage, 1978, and nine more: 1985, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2005. It reconfirmed why Solaia is one of the world’s great wines.
Except for the 1978, all the vintages of Solaia are a blend of approximate 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 20 percent Sangiovese. The grapes come from a single vineyard bearing the wine’s name at Villa Tignanello.
The 2004 Solaia displays its elegance from the moment you raise the glass. The dark purplish color is modernly young; blackberry, mildly toasted oak and bitter chocolate scents mix and drift upward from the glass. Ever so young, yet already balanced are the tannins, acidity and ripe fruit components of the 2004 Solaia. It is a remarkably elegant wine with great aging potential.
“What makes a great wine,” asked Piero Antinori. My answer is, “a relationship between you and the wine.” Many wines age well and are well-made; but only a few are great.
A great wine has the characteristics of a great friend or loved one. You think about it when you don’t have it; you look forward to having it again; and you are excited to see it arrive in the room. Change the “it” to him or her and you have the essence of a relationship. Great wines are personal.
Father’s Day is also personal. Give him a bottle of the 2004 Solaia and watch a relationship bloom: You to him and him to the wine.
Like great relationships, Solaia is rare. The 2004 Solaia retails for approximately $200.