The moment that most resonates with members of the Antinori family occurred in 1385, the year Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered the Winemakers’ Guild of Florence and effectively founded the firm that has since permanently altered the landscape of Italian winemaking. Tenuta Tignanello, the Antinori estate in Chianti Classico, lent its name to the first commercially available Super Tuscan, Tignanello 1971. Seven vintages later, the family introduced a second wine from this property, Solaia, named after a particularly sunny parcel in the vineyard. The Marchesi Antinori 2011 Solaia ($325, antinori.it)—a blend of 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Sangiovese, and 5 percent Cabernet Franc—delivers a warm bouquet of freshly baked cherry tart, and its rich medley of black cherry, boysenberry, nutmeg, cinnamon, and anise is balanced by a hint of leather and gorgeous acidity.
When Jayson Pahlmeyer left his career as a contract attorney to become a California vintner, his goal was to produce a world-class red wine in the tradition of the great Bordeaux. Although the law had previously provided his livelihood, he was not above circumventing it to achieve his dream. He successfully smuggled illegal French clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec into the United States. This minor crime brought major success: Pahlmeyer wines attract both high scores and collectors. But because the flagship wine is most often set in cellars for aging, Pahlmeyer decided in 1992 to produce a big yet approachable, easy-drinking second wine. The Jayson 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($75, pahlmeyer.com/jayson) displays essences of black cherry, espresso, bittersweet chocolate, and dried orange peel, as well as a luxurious texture that conceals its fine tannins.