Every once in a while, I get invited to a wine tasting that I cannot turn down, no matter how many wine events I am asked to attend. Those special moments could be an incredible vertical tasting or a once in a lifetime opportunity to sample wines that otherwise, I would not have a chance to try. Yesterday was one of those days. I received an invitation to taste the new release of the 2013 Solaia along with other Marchesi Antinori Crus.
The event took place at Obica in West Hollywood, and I have to say they served some of the best appetizers I have had at a wine tasting event. The lamb chops were a hit as well as the steak tartare.
It was the wine that was most impressive. Covering Tuscany and Umbria the Antinori wineries featured were Castello Della Sala, Badia A Passignano, Pian Delle Vigne, Tenuta Guado Al Tasso, Tignanello, and Solaia. Having just returned from a trip to Tuscany and Umbria, it was interesting to compare these wines to those I had sampled recently during my travels. My recent visit to these areas also gave me a better appreciation of the location and setting of these wineries.
Castello Della Sala, an estate located in Umbria, primarily produces white wine. There were two outstanding wines from this winery, the 2014 San Giovanni Della Sala Orvieto DOC Classico Superiore. The wine was a lovely bright, crisp wine and the perfect start to this wine tasting. This Orvieto combines Grechetto, Trebbiano, Viognier, and Pinot Blanc.
It was the dessert wine from Castello Della Sala that was the real stand out. Muffato Della Sala is what I would call a lively and bright dessert wine. It is not as heavy as some of the Passitos I have recently sampled in Italy, making this wine quite appealing. The wine is mostly botrytized Sauvignon Blanc combined with Grechetto, Traminer, and Riesling. One immediately senses the floral aromas from the Riesling. The flavors are honey and orange. My immediate impression after tasting the Muffato was, “This wine is alive.” It truly has a unique expression.
My last stop on my recent Italian adventure was Montalcino in Tuscany; making me quite attuned to the location and enjoyment of both the 2010 Pian Delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG and the Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Riserva. They were excellent, but it was easy to see the difference between one year and a single vineyard Riserva can make on a wine. The latter was obviously more together and balanced.
The Bolgheri DOC, established in 1994, is located in the Maremma area of Tuscany. The area is known for its natural beauty, its wine, its horses, and Butteros, the cowboy/shepherd of the horses. My impression from this wine tasting is that Tenuta Guado Al Tasso is the Antinori Family’s adaptation of Bordeaux. The wines utilize the traditional Bordeaux varietals with the addition, in some cases, of Syrah. This Italian take on a French wine is quite evident in the vertical tasting of the 2001, 2011, and 2012 Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri DOC Superior.
The 2001 represented an older blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. This wine was very smoky with hints of tobacco and very old-world in quality. The 2011 and 2012 were more complex due to the combination of the more traditional blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. My preference, due to my California palette, was the 2012 because of its brighter qualities. Both expressed the same smoky flavors as the 2001.
Tignanello Winery sits in the center of Chianti Classico. The Antinori Family was the first winery to introduce the Super Tuscan wine with the Tignanello Toscana IGT in 1971. It is a single vineyard wine that combines 80% Sangiovese with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Sampling 2001 showed the integration and how well the wine ages.
The red wine, that stood out as the Piece de Resistance was the Solaia. This wine, over its 40 years, showed Super Tuscan wines have a prominent place in the wine world. Solaia means sunny one, and this wine shines brightly. It got its name because the grapes come from the sunniest part of the Tignanello vineyard. The wine is only produced in exceptional years.
The wine is bright and vibrant. Solaia combines 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine ages 18 months in French oak and, once blended, ages another year in the bottle. Tasting the 2001 Solaia, one found another well-integrated and balanced wine. The aromas were those of raisins, giving way to flavors of dark fruit and smoky yet spicy notes. The 2012 Solaia, with its black fruit, could still use some time. It was a bright wine. The 2013 was superb, with flavors of dark fruit, mocha, and smoke. This wine is a very full-bodied wine and will develop nicely over time.
Having this tasting at Obica, especially as you gazed from the balcony at the back of the restaurant to savor both the wine and the view of Los Angeles, was the perfect ambiance to enjoy these spectacular wines. With a long history in the industry, one can count on Antinori wines to continue to dazzle the wine world.
For more information about Marchesi Antinori and their wines, click here.