Sassicaia has become one of the most sought after wines the world over. It is sold in all fine Italian restaurants and decorates all other great wine lists. It has become a favourite in the US, UK, Russia and now Asia, with an extremely strong on-trade route to market creating a supply shortage much earlier than top Bordeaux wines. It has, for some time now been a wine for private clients in the know. A guilty secret bought to drink, no matter how quickly it appreciates in value. It has also become a leading global brand, a favourite of Jay Z on his recent trip to London and also Madonna.
Tenuta San Guido only produces 12,500 cases a year and three decades of sustained consumption has left a shortage of older vintages – a real shame for a wine that becomes so extraordinary with age. We continue to feel that Sassicaia will become a leading brand in Asia as it has become elsewhere in the world. It also carries a vintage premium, getting significantly more expensive as it ages.
We tasted it along with the 2009 two weeks ago and it is hard not to draw comparisons with Bordeaux which produced an incredibly ripe 2009 and the structured equally concentrated 2010.
Dense, rich blackberries fruit with aromatic red fruit notes of plum and cherry. Sweet cloves and thyme enveloping an intense caramelised nuances, almost toffee like. The tannins are firmer than the 2009, but ripe nonetheless. The fruit is no less concentrated than the 2009 but at first glance less voluptuous. However, this lends 2010 the advantage of fresh acidity. We think it will be longer lived than the 2009, but will take longer to open into full bloom. This is very elegant wine that finishes with a delicate expression of smoke. 92-94+ points IG Wines
In 1978 Sassicaia joined the world’s elite wines when Decanter held a tasting called ‘Great Clarets’, which consisted of 33 wines, including Bordeaux First Growths. It was here that the 1975 Sassicaia vintage took first place. During the 1980s, Sassicaia cemented itself as one of the world’s most prestigious wines, when Robert Parker gave a perfect 100 point score to the 1985 vintage, he declared he mistook it for a 1986 Mouton Rothschild. Today the legendary Sassicaia 1985 costs more and is far rarer than the great Mouton 1986 and the former continues to excel when compared to other wines in blind tastings.
The Sassicaia Estate is situated near the Tuscan coast (Bolgheri) and had been owned by the Leopoldo Incisa’s family since 1800. It was Leopoldo’s writings on vines and wines that inspired his great grandson, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, to plant the Sassicaia vineyard on his wife’s estate, Tenuta San Guido. It is rumoured that he planted vines originally purchased from Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted on land in Tenuta San Guido in 1940 and all the wine produced for the next 20 years remained under the ownership of family and close friends. The 1968 wine was the first vintage to be produced commercially.
The name Sassicaia comes from the Italian word for stone – sasso and its meaning can be summed up as stony fields. These fields are protected from sea breezes as they are on the south-west facing hill and by the Tenuta San Guido castle. There are three vineyards on the estate: Castiglioncello – the original plot of land (1.5 hectares), Di Sotto (13 hectares) boasting clay soil and 40 year old vines and the Aianova (16 hectares) which provides well drained soils; all of which are of a similar age. Each plot is crushed and fermented separately in steel tanks at 30 degrees for around two weeks and then blended before ageing in oak. Historically they were aged in 60% French and 40% Slovenian oak. Today, however, all barrels are French, 30-40% new oak and aged for 22 months. Here you will find that 70% of the vines are Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest are Cabernet Franc.
The estate insists that it is the Cabernet Franc that is able to achieve full ripeness year on year and provides that unique finesse and famous longevity. In its youth the wine is ripe, rich, opulent and layered with black fruits, cherries, spices, minerals, herbs, new leather, caramel, smoke and toast. With age sweet fruit, tobacco, cedar, porcini mushrooms, liquorice, flowers, maintaining a rich body with delicate tannin and a wonderful balance of masculinity and femininity.