Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2017
|Region||Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri Sassicaia|
|Brand||Tenuta San Guido|
Hailed as the standard-bearer of Italian enology, the historic Tenuta San Guido estate is known for crafting Sassicaia, the world’s first Super Tuscan and an important contribution to Italy’s evolving reputation as a fine-wine producing nation in the mid-20th century. From the ambition of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta to plant Bordeaux varieties in Tuscany in the 1940s to the arrival of acclaimed consulting oenologist Giacomo Tachis to the introduction of two additional wines to the brand, Tenuta San Guido has vaulted from success to success. The first vintage of Sassicaia offered on the open market was 1968. The DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, the first, and so far only case in Italy of a DOC contained in one estate.
Sassicaia means “the place of many stones,” and refers to the region’s gravel soil. The original vineyards have a southwest exposure with extensive sun and maritime breezes that create robust vegetation. The grapes were handpicked, destemmed and crushed before fermenting with natural yeasts for 15 days in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged in French oak barriques (40% new) for 24 months, then refined for 6 months in bottle before release.
2017 Sassicaia represents 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, with most of the fruit coming from the Tenuta's historic vineyards Castiglioncello, Quercione and Doccino. These plots are all located on the back hill of Bolgheri at slightly higher elevations where they enjoy cooler nighttime temperatures. Old vines also have a deeper root system that is key to braving dry and hot summers. You can absolutely taste those choices here thanks to the wine's aromatic profile that offers more variety-driven green highlights of wild berry, forest floor and bramble than I would have expected. With time, as the wine takes on more air in the glass, you get a hint of summer plum or a cherry cough drop, and this, to my surprise, is the only subtle reminder of the hot vintage encountered.
Aromas of exotic spice, baked plum and French oak mingle with camphor and blue flower on the nose. This boasts extraordinary elegance and freshness despite the hot vintage, delivering flavors of juicy Marasca cherry, spiced blueberry, tobacco and licorice. Velvety, fine-grained tannins provide support while coffee and crushed mint linger on the finish. Drink 2022-2032.
The 2017 Sassicaia is dark, sensual and rich, which is a good thing, as the tannins - the result of a warm, dry year in which phenolic ripening was difficult to fully reach - are also quite powerful. I tasted the 2017 from an approximate blend from barrel, where the wines are still aging in separate lots. It will be interesting to see where things end up once the wine is in bottle.
This shows focus and finesse with dark berries, currants and a light rosemary character. Full-bodied, refined and focused. Serious.
A taut, densely wrought red, with black currant, black cherry, iron, wild herb and spice flavors matched to the elegant frame and restrained character. Balanced and long, this has a distinctly Old World feel and looks set to unravel its complex facets slowly. Terrific length. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2022 through 2043.