Not only was the 1997 Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT a rare and expensive wine, it is a wine that is Antinori’s flagship, designed to sit amongst the likes of first-growth claret, but with its own Italian spin on it, being 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese. The fruit comes from the best plots of the ‘Tignanello’ estate and sees a year’s aging in the finest barriques. 1997 was of course, a blue chip year.
On pouring the wine, one could see it was dense and dark, but with a little bricking on the edge. Then the nose, a powerhouse of concentrated savoury, secondary aromas. Load of black fruits, with no greenness, and indeed some plum, earth and liquorice. A bit of game – and a little more – funky, you could say. Beautifully structured still, with plenty of grip to match the fruit density. Hinting at drying, but the fruit sweetness still to the fore. We all pronounced it serious and sophisticated. Truly a representation of an icon in the most serious sense. Yet we all saw the funkiness – a bit of brettanomyces – but it just added to the complexity. Sure, in a wine show we’d have doubts judging it at the highest level. But here, in great company, excellent food, and the occasion of a rare catch-up, we were all enjoying life. This wine’s status and all its positive points would not allow any thought of something technical as a yeast strain spoil our day. Subjectivity rules! This wine was a stunning one which cemented our bonds of love and friendship.