Decanter's content director John Stimpfig recently attended the launch of Tenuta San Guido's Sassicaia 2014...
The story of how Sassicaia and Bolgheri came into existence is one of my favourites. It has been told many times, but is always worth re-telling for those who haven’t yet come across it.
Back in the 1930s, the Piedmontese aristocrat and race horse breeder Mario Incisa della Rochetta planted some Cabernet vines in his coastal Tuscan estate, Tenuta San Guido, near the tiny hamlet of Bolgheri. A lover of great Bordeaux, he hoped that the resultant wine might be similar to the left bank clarets he collected and cherished.
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The first harvest was in 1941 and he thought little of the wine which was only ever intended for his personal consumption. However, as the vintages mounted up and the wine aged, it became increasingly clear that this was a special wine. So when his cousin Piero Antinori helped him launch the inaugural 1968 vintage onto the world stage, it became a vinous sensation. It was the very first SuperTuscan, and in 1994 the estate was accorded its own DOC.
Of course, it’s not just Sassicaia which is world-famous. Bolgheri now boasts some of the most expensive vineyard land, with more than 1,000 hectares split amongst about 50 producers whose roll call of names include Ornellaia, Gaja and, of course, Antinori.
But in the opinion of many, Sassicaia is not just the original but also the best. Today it is run by Mario’s son Nicolo Incisa, who has unquestionably established it as one of the greatest wines in the world, famed and feted for its timeless elegance, balance and longevity.
So it was a privilege and pleasure to taste Sassicaia’s latest release from the 2014 vintage in London last week in the company of Priscilla Incisa, who is Nicolo’s daughter.
According to Priscilla, 2014 was a cool year with some late summer rain. But Bolgheri did not receive as much precipitation as other areas of Tuscany, and the Cabernet vines (Sauvignon and Franc) ripened slowly, achieving good phenolic maturation and excellent aromatics.
The traditional blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged for 24 months in French barriques before bottling, has produced a wine of classical proportions with lift and grace. The wine is on sale now and will be shipped in two months time.
Armit Wines is the exclusive supplier of Sassicaia in the UK.