The 2011 Guidalberto reveals a plump, opulent and irresistible style. The 2011 vintage was a scorcher in much of Italy, but Bolgheri performed very nicely thanks to the soft sea breezes that kept the summer heat in check. There is beautiful fruit ripeness here, but the wine never feels overdone or overblown. Expert winemaking is clearly at hand. You can almost feel the crunch of the berries in your mouth and the soft tannins have been expertly managed. Dark cherry, blackberry preserves, spice, candied almond and tarry licorice rise from the glass. The wine is still youthful with a darkly extracted personality that will flesh out further in time. When Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made a state visit to Washington, D.C. this past April, he packed a few bottles for the trip. He selected four wines to share with President Barack Obama. According to media reports they were Sassicaia (the 2011 vintage), Ornellaia, Tignanello and a Brunello di Montalcino by Mastrojanni. The statesmen sampled the wines together and President Obama joked that it would be “insulting” not to taste them. During a press conference, he turned to Renzi and smiled: “I will give you, Matteo, a report on whether it is up to the quality we expect.” Born in Florence, Prime Minister Renzi made a sound selection of wines from his native Tuscany to share with the American president. Of these wines, none is more iconic than Sassicaia. Roughly one month prior to the White House wine summit, I was in Bolgheri at Tenuta San Guido to taste a few older vintages of Sassicaia including the 1982 and 1998. I was also able to taste preview samples of the excellent 2013 vintage and the challenging 2014 vintage. 93/100. Drink: 2015 - 2028
The Original Super Tuscan, Sassicaia was created in the mid-1940s by the Marquis Mario Incisadella Rochetta, an aristocrat looking to reproduce his favourite wines of Bordeaux - a first in Italian viticulture. Noticeably distinct from the lighter styled wines of the region, the bold expression of Cabernet was not initially well received by the Italian drinking public. As a result, from 1948 to 1960, the wines were consumed only at the estate. The 1968 vintage marked its first commercial release.As Bordeaux blends grew in popularity over the years, Sassicaia was able to create a reputationunparalleled amongst its Super Tuscan peers. Recognising their unique terroir and exceptionalquality, they were even granted their own DOC in 1994 named accordingly, Bolgheri Sassicaia.Keeping these distinctions in mind, a winery of movie set proportions had been expected. Yet infact, it is superbly discrete and modest - reminiscent of a domaine in Burgundy or the Rhône.
The medieval town of Bolgheri was originally made famous by the poet Giosuè Carducci who wrote about the stunning Cypress Avenue, a breathtaking and magical three mile long corridor of trees leading up to the entrance to the village. Swept away to the coastal and most westerly area of Tuscany, Bolgheri has become synonymous with wines known as ‘Super Tuscans'. Composed of classic Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (intermixed with the occasional Sangiovese), the Super Tuscans began as mere experimentation in the 1960s and 70s. These international French varieties flourished in Bolgheri's warm, yet maritime climate which resulted in unexpected success and reknown. It is here that one finds such famous names as Ornellaia, Tignanello and Sassicaia.