x
  • Country ranking ?

    226
  • Producer ranking ?

    4
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now to 2025
  • Food Pairing

    Roast rabbit stuffed with thyme.

Each year, Wine Spectator editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous 12 months and select our Top 100, based on quality, value, availability and excitement. This annual list honors successful wineries, regions and vintages around the world.

Solaia 1997  was the Wine of the Year in 2000

Dark ruby in color, with extremely ripe raisin and spice aromas. Full-bodied and very chewy, with loads of polished tannins and a long, long finish that's big and fruity. A solid, muscular red fromTuscany, this is the greatest Solaia ever made. Best after 2004. 7,000 cases made. —JS 98 points

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The Story

When the initial production of Solaia began, the grape source was a parcel within the larger Tignanello vineyard. The same special characteristics as the original vineyard – altitude, soil, and exposure to the sun (which accounts for the name of the parcel and the wine: “Solaia” derives from sole, the Italian word for the sun) are also to be found in a nearby vineyard plot which, since 1997, has been integrated into the original vineyard. The Solaia vineyard, currently, consists of 20 hectares (49 acres) and is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (15 hectares), Cabernet Franc (1 hectar) and Sangiovese (4 hectares); the vines have an average of fifteen years. Vine density ranges from 5,500 to 7,200 per hectare and a low, spurred-cordon training system is used. Over the years there has been a progressive renewal of the Solaia vineyard. This has been accomplished by utilizing the many years of experience and the more extensive knowledge of the estate’s land to further bring out the personality of Solaia as a wine.

 

The Marchesi Antinori firm produced this wine for the first time in the 1978 vintage with an initial blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, a blend repeated again in 1979. In the following vintages 20% of Sangiovese was added to the Cabernet grapes and the ratio of Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon was changed in order to create a wine which has now become definitive in its various composing elements. Solaia is only produced in exceptional vintages: it was not produced in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1992. In 2002 the Sangiovese did not achieve satisfactory quality for Solaia: only Cabernet grapes were used. This vintage is known as “annata diversa” (different vintage).

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Vintage 1997

Blend:75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 20%Sangiovese

Climate:
The latter part of winter and the beginining of spring were very mild for the time of the year and also very dry. This produced early budding - some 10 days earlier than average. In April the temperature suddenly dropped,
causing an arrest in the growth of the buds. The summer was very hot and sunny and this weather continued for the
whole of September and for the duration of the harvest which meant that at the time of picking, the grapes were exceptionally healthy and with a high sugar concentration.
Overall the 1997 harvest has been somewhat less than expected in terms of quantity - but in terms of quality, this is an exceptional vintage, probably even better than the
much acclaimed 1990 vintage and one of the greatest of the last fifty years.

The grapes from the Solaia vineyard, which are as always severely selected, were among the last to be harvested (starting September 22 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 and one-year-old 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.



 

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

14 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep and Ruby red

ending

Medium, Spicy, Smooth and Alcoholic

flavors

Blueberry, Licorice, Tobacco and Mineral

nose

Intense, Opulent and Seductive

recommend

Yes

taste

Balanced, Well-Integrated, Mature, Full-bodied, Ripe, Firm, Refined, Sweet and Sweet tannins

Verdict

Intelligent and Well made

Written Notes

We two-stepped to Tuscany with a 1997 Solaia. There were herbs and spices almost a la Chartreuse, and this was clearly a different category from that of Piedmont. It got more herbal and a bit confused in the glass (93).

  • 93p
A former Number 1 Wine of the Year from a well-known mag, this showed that they got it right, at least amongst the SuperTuscans from that vintage. It was the pick. Opened a little blocky but moved into appealing dark fruits and fungal notes. Supple with very fine tannins, this had the better structure of all of the wines in the set. Rather bold in style. Full-flavoured, with good grip and decent length. Good bottles may offer even more in time but generally, best enjoyed sooner than later. 94
  • 94p

Deep dark purple youthful colour. Rich and voluptuous nose of blue berries, boysenberries, dark chocolate and vegetal notes. The nuances increase over time with licorice and tobacco complementing the layered character. Full-bodied with ripe fruitiness and smooth firm tannins. Intense and mineral wine with impressive body-weight and length. A supervintage for Solaia that is starting to see its peak, but will develop positively until 2025

  • 96p

Information

Origin

Florence, Tuscany

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Best buy

Investment potential

Below Average

Fake factory

None

Other wines from this producer

Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva

Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva

Franciacorta

Franciacorta Rosé

La Braccesca Merlot

Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

Marchese Antinori Donna Cora

Marchese Antinori Nature

Peppoli Chianti Classico

Pèppoli Chianti Classico

Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino

Pian delle Vigne Vigna Ferrovia Riserva

Santa Cristina

Tignanello

Villa Antinori

Villa Antinori Bianco

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

Villa Antinori Rosso

Vinsanto Tenute Marchese Antinori

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

96p
 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

Deep dark purple youthful colour. Rich and voluptuous nose of blue berries, boysenberries, dark chocolate and vegetal notes. The nuances increase over time with licorice and tobacco complementing the layered character. Full-bodied with ripe fruitiness and smooth firm tannins. Intense and mineral wine with impressive body-weight and length. A supervintage for Solaia that is starting to see its peak, but will develop positively until 2025

4m 4d ago

93p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

We two-stepped to Tuscany with a 1997 Solaia. There were herbs and spices almost a la Chartreuse, and this was clearly a different category from that of Piedmont. It got more herbal and a bit confused in the glass (93).

10m 10d ago

94p
 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"A former Number 1 Wine of the Year from a well-known mag, this showed that they got it right, at least amongst the SuperTuscans from that vintage. It was the pick.
Opened a little blocky but moved into appealing dark fruits and fungal notes. Supple with very fine tannins, this had the better structure of all of the wines in the set. Rather bold in style. Full-flavoured, with good grip and decent length. Good bottles may offer even more in time but generally, best enjoyed sooner than later.
94"

1y 6m ago

88p
 Frank Smulders MW, Pro (Austria)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"Solaia 1997 was aromatically a very interesting, maybe great wine. In the beginning too ripe in it’s fruit and too alcoholic on the nose, but after a few minutes in the glass the aromas changed and became much fresher, almost menthol-like. The finish however was disappointingly short."

2y 5m ago

95p
 Jason Lee / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"A deep, dark magenta colour. Juicy, big nose has the aroma of dark berries: blackcurrant, blueberry and boysenberry. Multilayered nose. Under the berry aromas lies dark chocolate, vegetelness, liquorice and tobacco. The full-bodied flavour has an ample and very ripe fruitiness as well as abundant ripe tannins. The flavour also offers caramel and cream. The finish is intense, multilayered and very long, with ripe fruitiness, dark berry essences and minerality. This wine is long-lived, in its prime from 2015 to 2025."

2y 5m ago

88p
 Frank Smulders MW, Pro (Austria)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"Solaia 1997 was aromatically a very interesting, maybe great wine. In the beginning too ripe in it’s fruit and too alcoholic on the nose, but after a few minutes in the glass the aromas changed and became much fresher, almost menthol-like. The finish however was disappointingly short."

4y 3m ago

94p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"I was convinced the 1997 Solaia was the 1997 Harlan. The nose was roasted coffee, asphalt, tar and melted chocolate. The palate was rich and long with nice expression of its tannins. It was hedonistic yet reined in stylistically. Batman found it ‘impressive but not my style. Difficult to like.’ I understood his point, as the modernish qualities of the Solaia seemed out of place, but it was difficult not to respect the wine, even if it was too soon and not the right place (94+)."

4y 9m ago

94p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Solaia 1997  ( Antinori )

"appealing, gently mouth puckering, very sophisticated"

4y 10m ago

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