Expensive wine 92: Antinori Solaia 2015

Antinori SolaiaThe 2015 Antinori Solaia is everything a Super Tuscan is supposed to be, and that includes the price

The Super Tuscan – a red blend that didn’t follow Italy’s appellation laws – transformed Italian wine. In the four decades since the first Super Tuscan, mixing international grapes like cabernet sauvignon and merlot with traditional Italian varieties has become common in every region and at every price. In fact, the Italian wine police had to change the appellation laws to allow Super Tuscans.

Antinori, which did the first Super Tuscan in 1971, may do it better than anyone. The Antinori Solaia ($300, sample, 14%) is everything a Super Tuscan is supposed to be: Inviting, velvety, fresh, and deep, with full, already developed red fruit. You can tell it’s an Italian wine that was made in Italy by one of the country’s most famous producers, but the Solaia forgoes the typical Italian acidity and it’s about as earthy and rustic as an issue of Vogue magazine. That’s partly the winemaking and partly the cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc blended with the sangiovese.

Which is the point. The Solaia, like most expensive Super Tuscans, doesn’t need to age the way an expensive Barolo or Barbaresco does. You can drink it right away; think of it as round and supple, without any of the sharp edges that round off over time in more traditional Italian wines.

It’s a beautiful wine, and even I can understand why the most important wine critics fall all over themselves in praise. And it may actually be worth what it costs, if you like that sort of thing. Which is also the point. It’s not made for those of use who prefer a little more Italian with our Italian wine.

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