Archive for May, 2013

As one of Italy’s most famous wines Sassicaia was first available on the commercial market in 1968. Since the very first bottle was sold back then today almost forty years later the wine stands today as Italy’s testament to the world of its ability to produce fine wine.

Birth of Sassicaia Wine

Sassicaia’s birth can be attributed to two chance meetings. The first is that of the meeting of the minds of Mario Incisa della Rocchetta with winemaker Giacomo Tachis who then brought together Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to form Sassicaia as we know it today.

What those two winemakers would have considered as ordinary encounter many years ago has changed dramatically the world of wine making. The result of their vision and creativity is a wine that has achieved world recognition. It was always Incisa della Rocchetta’s dream to create a quality wine that would be genuinely distinct. Once he settled in Tenuta San Guido he began experimenting with a number of grape varieties until he came up with the Sassicaia blend that up to today is a well respected wine. Sassicaia is composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.

Before Incisa della Rocchetta no one would have imagined that a Bordeaux style wine could be produced in Italy. It was even less imaginable that it could be done in a territory that had no real success in wine making. The conditions for growing vine were just not right in that area. Marquis followed his intuition based on similarities that he saw in that part of Tuscany and Graves in Bordeaux. Graves had the same rocky terrain as the estate in Tuscany and Marquis’ intuition proved to be right on.

He went on to make the wine in small batches for his family’s consumption until he met Giacomo Tachis who was a chief winemaker. They came together and created ’65 ’66 and ’67 blends. When Sassicaia was sold on the market it rose to almost instant success and received several awards since then. It became the first Italian wine that could stand up in comparison to Bordeaux Premiers Crus and is the wine responsible for the birth of Super Tuscan wines that emerged on the market in the last two decades.

Sassicaia was at its birth classified as vino da tavola (table wine) but the excellent quality of the wine prompted wine authorities to create a unique denomination for it and today it stands as Bolgheri-Sassicaia, the only wine in Italy to carry its own appellation.

How is Sassicaia Produced

The first phase fermentation lasts approximately 15 days in steel vats. Combination of pumping over the cap and “delestage” is used. Sassicaia wine is then aged for 24 months in French oak barrique barrels. And before the release wine is aged for 6 months in bottle.

Sassicaia at Present

Bolgheri Sassicaia wines are expensive and the cost depends a lot on the vintage. High demand, long aging along with the fact that availability is exclusive has also pushed the price up. You can expect to pay thousands of dollars for ’75 and ’88 vintages and even productions that are more recent can cost a few hundred dollars a bottle. Rival companies have attempted to publish their less than favorable feelings against the wine but this also increased demand for the product, something that I am sure that they didn’t anticipate.

It is sad to say that very few will ever have the opportunity to sample this wine but those they do truly remark that it was an experience that they certainly enjoyed. Many collectors purchase current vintages as an investment knowing full well if the past is any indication of future trends that the cost will go way up in the next few years. By purchasing bottles now and selling later many of them would more than triple their investments.  Still there are many wine lovers who purchase a bottle for thousands of dollars just because they love the wine.

Just because you may not be able to splurge on a bottle of Sassicaia does not mean that you cannot enjoy great wines from this very same estate. Guidalberto is another wine that is manufactured by Tenuta San Guido in response to the need for a wine that was not only less expensive but one that required less aging than Sassicaia. This wine does not have the depth of Sassicaia but it surprisingly light and vivacious. The other wine from this estate is Le Difese which is a cabernet/sangiovese which is also a great wine. Both wines receive the same attention to detail that goes into Sassicaia but can be purchased for less than $50 a bottle.

The best prices for Sassicaia can obviously be had directly from the manufacturer and if you’re lucky you might be able to get in a little wine tasting while you’re there. If travel to Italy is not in the cards for you then you can purchase through a broker or online where there are many comparison sites detailing where you can get the best price.