Antinori Solaia 1997 – Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc – Tuscany, Italy
Cost: $85/bottle purchased in early 2000 (vintage 2006 currently about $175/bottle)
Amazingly dark ruby/purple color for a slowly maturing wine that is 12 years off the vine. Full-bodied and rather inky in texture. The nose is slow to emerge, almost as if it’s still quietly waking up after resting about 9 years in my wine cellar. The Solaia performed exceptionally well (but only after about 40 minutes of aeration) offering a bouquet of blackberries, black currants, premium cigar tobacco, sandalwood, and licorice. But its true calling in life and overall quality seem to show more in its huge concentration of fruit, most notable on the mid-palate, backed by a wall of tannins. Clearly this wine is still youthful and its structure is just barely allowing consumption at this stage, and only with plenty of air time in the glass. This wine could have benefited enormously from decanting, but I admit I was remiss.