Today we are celebrating the 50th vintage of the Italian icon, the pioneering Super Tuscan, the “father of all vino italiano” and above all, one of the greatest red wines in the world, Sassicaia. There couldn’t be a better way to mark the birthday of this legendary wine than with the 2018 release, a vintage which according to Monica Larner of The Wine Advocate “is impossible to mistake for anything but Sassicaia” and is “distinguished by the archetypal elegance and pedigree of the classic vintages of the past.”
Fabulous, beautiful, exciting – the critics’ accolades for this wine are not short of superlatives. After the challenging 2017 vintage, the 2018 growing season, despite a cold and rainy start, brought just what the vines needed: abundant sun and dry weeks before the harvest, resulting in the excellent quality of fruit – it’s almost as if Nature chose to congratulate Sassicaia on its 50th birthday. “This vintage is crystalline and pure in its delivery”, says Monica Larner admiring Sassicaia’s bouquet which is “especially intriguing with a very lively plummy fruit element that is enhanced by baker’s chocolate, pepper spice, iron ore, caramel and pie crust. There is also a green character that adds positively to the bouquet with aniseed, tea leaf, soya, menthol rub and black olive. The fruit maturity is spot-on with no elements that feel over or underripe… This new release gives you much pleasure to await.” Larner has awarded Sassicaia 2018 with 97+ points, emphasising the “plus” which suggests a long ageing potential. James Suckling agrees that Sassicaia 2018 will evolve beautifully in the cellar and recommends trying it after 2024, describing the wine as incredibly aromatic and elegant: “The 2017 and 2016 were about power, but the 2018 is about finesse and subtlety.” Antonio Galloni reaffirms this point calling the 2018 vintage “a regal wine that is going to need a number of years to come into its own. Sassicaia is the most finessed of Bolgheri’s top wines. That is very much the case in 2018 as well. I loved it.” The 2018 blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc: the wine spent 19 months in oak, two-thirds new, followed by 6 months in the bottle.
Over the last six years, Sassicaia has seen its average price increase 70% for the last 15 vintages. We have previously projected it would achieve an average market price of £1,000 per case of six by 2025, though recent uber vintages have accelerated this. Our advice as always is to secure an allocation, buy Sassicaia perennially and let it adorn one’s cellar. It is one of the great wines of the world and is only getting more and more expensive to buy on release as well as on the secondary market.
While Sassicaia will require time to reach its peak, we are very pleased to offer a superb earlier drinking option, the estate’s second wine, Guidalberto, which typically releases a year ahead of Sassicaia. Silky and smooth, with seductive aromas of fruit, sweet spices and chocolate, Guidalberto is designed for more informal drinking, yet, as once noted by Monica Larner, its “pedigree is evident in terms of the careful management of the structure and acidity.” Guidalberto is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aged for 15 months in French oak barriques, with a small element of American oak. The wine is then aged three months in bottle before being released onto the market. The 2019 vintage has not been scored yet, however we expect high demand for this delicious wine which has earned a following of its own, so we urge you to secure your parcel as soon as possible.
Tenuta San Guido estate is situated near the Tuscan coast in Bolgheri and has been owned by the Incisa family since 1800. It was Leopoldo Incisa’s writings on vines and wines that inspired his great grandson, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, to take a chance and plant the French varieties here in 1942. It is rumoured that he planted vines originally purchased from Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Mario’s decision brought a fundamental change to the Tuscan tradition of Sangiovese, thus paving the path for the other “Super Tuscans”. However for the next 20 years all the wine produced here remained under the ownership of family and close friends. The 1968 Sassicaia 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. The Bolgheri appellation is celebrated for its rich soil diversity and Sassicaia is drawn from sites with silt, clay, sand, gravel and alluvial deposits. Today the estate covers 97 hectares of vineyards planted mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and some Sangiovese. 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 to their flagship wine. In their youth the wines are ripe, rich, opulent and layered with black fruits, cherries, spices, minerals, herbs, new leather, caramel, smoke and toast. With age they gain notes of sweet fruit, tobacco, cedar, porcini mushrooms, liquorice and flowers whilst maintaining a rich body and delicate tannin.