Tenuta San Guido was established by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, Considered the seminal “Super Tuscan”, the name Sassicaia (sasso meaning stone) indicating a stony field, originated in 1948 when first produced by Incisa della Rocchetta using Cabernet Sauvignon vines and only to be used as family consumption. Though for years Sassicaia remained the marchese’s personal wine, his son Nicolò and nephew Piero Antinori convinced him to release it commercially, starting with the 1968 vintage, which was unveiled in 1971.
Though initially there were only a few thousand bottles available, Sassicaia was an immediate hit with famed Italian critic Luigi Veronelli, who dubbed it “fairy-tale wine” (vino da favola), thanks to the wine’s complex bouquet and finesse. To keep up with the sudden demand, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta hired consulting enologist Giacomo Tachis to further refine the wine while increasing production.
In the years that followed, many changes would be made in an effort to create the perfect wine. Greater temperature control and a change from steel to wooden vats were just a few of the changes that would be made. At a 1978 Decanter tasting of “great clarets”, a panel awarded the 1972 Sassicaia victory over a field of 33 wines from 11 countries, and established the wine’s international reputation.
Sassicaia wines are a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, with each spending two years aging in French Oak barrels. An additional six months is dedicated to aging the wine after it has been bottled. Only after the two and a half year aging process is the wine made available to the public. The result of patience is a wine that offers deep flavours, has excellent longevity, and is extremely structured.
Some of the latest releases are being compared to great Tuscan reds of the 1980’s. The Sassicaia 1985 vintage has become legendary despite its younger age.
Much debate ranges as to the correct time to consume the 1985 vintage. However, many wine aficionados claim that it has already reached an age which makes it worth opening and enjoying now.
The 2004 Sassicaia Red is considered by many to be the best release of the past ten years. This vintage works well to portray Tuscany and show off the deep flavours that come from the region. The aromas of fudge, cherry, currant, vanilla, and exotic spices are ever present and hit the taste buds immediately. Milder aromas and tastes such as Mediterranean herbs and cola follow soon after.
Sophisticated is certainly a word that can be used to describe the vintages produced between 2006 and 2009. Each one is quite complex and offers distinct characteristics. Of these years, the 2008 vintage stands out from the rest and stands as one of the best ever. Expect to experience the aromas of black fruit, prunes, black olives, tobacco and more when opening this vintage. Rich and intense, the 2008 Sassicaia Red delivers a memorable taste.
Recent tastings show that the flavours have developed and each of these vintages may certainly be enjoyed at this time. Those who prefer to hold these years, yet are searching for a vintage that is 100% guaranteed developed and ready for consumption will want to seek out a bottle of 1989 Sassicaia. Of course the challenge in this is locating one.