The story of Sassicaia: How a controversial experiment became a legend

When we talk about Sassicaia and the Tenuta San Guido Estate, the words which come to mind are innovative and pioneering. What we know today as one of Tuscany’s leading estates was once an experimental project led by the innovative Italian pioneer, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta.

Sassicaia, Nicolo Sebastiano Sassicaia, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

He recognised the similarity of the Bolgherian climate to that of Bordeaux and the potential for the region to create long-lived, exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. With this in mind he directed his efforts to making a success of this celebrated grape in Bolgheri, starting by planting clones of Cabernet Sauvignon taken from Chateau Lafite in the 1950s.

Making wine from Cabernet Sauvignon was a controversial decision in Tuscany where the tradition has always been to produce quality wines from indigenous varieties, most particularly Sangiovese. The local market, accustomed to lighter, local wines, weren’t very welcoming of the first vintages of Sassicaia. As a result, recognition for the estate was only achieved in the mid 1970’s when the vines and wines had time to mature.

There are two significant turning points in the development of the reputation of Sassicaia. Firstly, Sassicaia emerged victorious in 1978 in a Decanter blind tasting against 33 other Bordeaux blends from around the world. Secondly,in the 1990’s when it was awarded its own DOC status; Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC; a phenomenal achievement for a wine once classified as a basic IGT.

An Italian Icon

Today, the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of the Marchese is celebrated and Sassicaia has reached the lofty heights of the world’s most iconic wines. Armit Wines has proudly developed a strong relationship with the Tenuta San Guido family for over 20 years and are the exclusive importers and representatives of their legendary wines in the UK.

New Release Sassicaia – 2012 vintage report

The defining characteristics of the 2012 vintage were noticeable summer heat and lack of rainfall towards the end of the growing season. The spring was very mild with plenty of sunshine encouraging rapid vine growth. July and August were almost completely rain free which meant early ripening due to a lack of ground moisture. September was characterized by moderate temperatures and no rain leading to thick grape skins and evident concentration. This has resulted in wines of ripeness and concentration yet also elegance and precision due to Tenuta San Guido’s careful handling of the warmer conditions.

2012 Sassicaia Tasting Notes:

The 2012 Sassicaia can be defined by its elegance and class and the summer warmth meant the Cabernets, especially Franc, thrived, resulting in rich yet vibrant wines with classic Cabernet structure. The 2012 has an expansive bouquet of crushed blackberries and dark cherries which opens to reveal complex notes of delicate spices and wild herbs which combine beautifully. Gorgeously refined and textured on the palate with lovely weight of dark berry fruits balanced by a racy mineral quality and an elegant freshness.

Sassicaia 2012 is available to purchase from Armit Wines – contact web@armitwines.co.uk

Written by eleanor douglas