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2009 Sassicaia

2009 Sassicaia

97+ VM

Featured Review
(80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc): Bright full ruby. Pure, perfumed aromas of blackberry, cassis, lead pencil, violet and minerals, complicated by a superripe note of crushed raspberry. Extremely primary and pure, offering sharply defined cassis, violet and mineral flavors of great class. The perfectly integrated acidity and a vibrant floral character from the cabernet franc give the middle palate terrific lift. Though very ripe in its flavor profile, this wine conveys a rare lightness of touch that is typical of Sassicaia but rare for this vintage on the Tuscan Coast. Finishes with noble tannins and outstanding palate-staining length. For all its creamy power and charm, I really like this wine's balance and the subtle delivery of its complex flavors. I have tasted every vintage of Sassicaia on countless occasions and, other than the legendary 1985, I have no doubt that this is one of the two or three best Sassicaias at a similar stage of development. Though the 2009 won't surpass the once-in-a-lifetime 1985, it is starting out its life in bottle with almost the same perfectly balanced, opulent creamy texture and depth of that incredible wine, which I remembertasting both in Rome and in Tuscanyimmediately upon release. In fact, that wine was so good that even thoughI was still auniversity student (and thus on a studentbudget), it was the firsttime in my lifeI ever bought a full case. If I were a university student today, I'd do the same with the 2009, even though the price of Sassicaia is far higher today. There's profound potential here, but younger wine writers and consumers who weren't seriously involved in tasting back in the '80s may well be surprised by this wine's voluptuous, atypically opulent texture and thus miss its sheer greatness. Vinous Media

Vinous (Galloni) | 97+ VM

Critic Reviews

An extremely rich and ripe wine with currant, cherry and balsamic aromas. Hints of leather. Follows through on the finish. Full body, round and velvety tannins that are reserved and beautiful. Sweet and sour. Savory, too. Drink or hold. This has a long life ahead of it.

James Suckling | 98 JS
(80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc): Bright full ruby. Pure, perfumed aromas of blackberry, cassis, lead pencil, violet and minerals, complicated by a superripe note of crushed raspberry. Extremely primary and pure, offering sharply defined cassis, violet and mineral flavors of great class. The perfectly integrated acidity and a vibrant floral character from the cabernet franc give the middle palate terrific lift. Though very ripe in its flavor profile, this wine conveys a rare lightness of touch that is typical of Sassicaia but rare for this vintage on the Tuscan Coast. Finishes with noble tannins and outstanding palate-staining length. For all its creamy power and charm, I really like this wine's balance and the subtle delivery of its complex flavors. I have tasted every vintage of Sassicaia on countless occasions and, other than the legendary 1985, I have no doubt that this is one of the two or three best Sassicaias at a similar stage of development. Though the 2009 won't surpass the once-in-a-lifetime 1985, it is starting out its life in bottle with almost the same perfectly balanced, opulent creamy texture and depth of that incredible wine, which I remembertasting both in Rome and in Tuscanyimmediately upon release. In fact, that wine was so good that even thoughI was still auniversity student (and thus on a studentbudget), it was the firsttime in my lifeI ever bought a full case. If I were a university student today, I'd do the same with the 2009, even though the price of Sassicaia is far higher today. There's profound potential here, but younger wine writers and consumers who weren't seriously involved in tasting back in the '80s may well be surprised by this wine's voluptuous, atypically opulent texture and thus miss its sheer greatness.

Vinous Media | 97+ VM
Some torrefied, caramel notes on the nose, this is a wine that vibrates with a beautifully held together crimson red colour. On the palate, there are signs of a hot vintage, with hints of exotic fig, yet it’s shot through with fresh crushed violet notes. Can feel some sun bleaching, although again a heady sweet spice fragrance takes over. This is grilled charcoal over a roasted blackcurrant Cabernet core. And then, just as you are wondering about the exoticism of the fruit, the sweet relief of fresh mint comes slipping in on the finish. What a beautiful wine. Elegant, but packs quite a punch.

Decanter | 97 DEC
The 2009 Bolgheri Sassicaia is the richest and darkest edition in recent memory. This super-charged Sassicaia boasts enormous power and concentration thanks to its impressive phenolic foundation. Black currant and blackberry confit are followed by spice, leather, tar, road paving and black truffle. It shows preliminary tertiary signs with licorice and crushed mineral. The wine wraps thickly over the palate delivering tight textural firmness and integrated structure. You taste the sweetness of the fruit and the depth of the oak tannins. No matter how you approach it, this wine scores very high on the intensity meter. For the record: Tenuta San Guido General Manager Carlo Paoli expressed concern about the integrity of his sample, but I remained extremely pleased by the gorgeous wine before me.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RP
Sassicaia has been showing amazing results in recent years, and the 2009 vintage opens with all the intensity and beauty you should expect of Italy's flagship super Tuscan. Notes of blackberry, soft spice, chocolate, espresso and a touch of rosemary oil make for a beautiful bouquet. The mouthfeel is long, supple and rich. Drink after 2020.

Wine Enthusiast | 96 WE
This tightly knit, dense red is full of black currant, cherry, herb and spice flavors. The tannins are aggressive now, but this is long and detailed, with an herb and spice aftertaste. A classy wine. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2014 through 2028. 17,500 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 93 WS
From the famed estate in Bolgheri, where the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta first planted Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1940s, this is a grand vintage of Sassacaia that will need years to fully evolve. Plentiful spring rains prepared the vines for the hot summer of 2009, sustaining them with plenty of moisture in the stony, limestone-inflected soils. A portion of Cabernet Franc (15 percent) emphasizes the fresh tobacco and green herb scents in the blend, while the black olive flavors of young Cabernet Sauvignon fill out a plush, rich texture. This is silken in the middle, with acidity keeping it bright even as oak builds up in the finish. Cellar this for ten years or more to capture the vineyard’s fullest expression.

Wine & Spirits | 92 W&S

Wine Details for 2009 Sassicaia

Type of Wine Super Tuscan/IGT : Many grape varietals are planted all over the world so they're not typical for one single country anymore. For instance, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc form part of many blends coming from different countries. Super Tuscan wines are produced in this Italian region, but grape varietals used in the making are not indigenous - those are mostly Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Varietal Proprietary Blend : Proprietary Blend is a general term used to indicate that a wine is comprised of multiple grape varietals which are either “proprietary” to the winery or is blended and does not meet the required maximum or minimum percentage of a particular varietal. This also is the case for the grape’s place of origin, especially for region, appellation or vineyard designated wines. There are endless examples of blended wines which are labeled as “Proprietary Blend” and in conjunction with each region’s stipulated wine laws and regulations makes for a vast blanket for wines to fall into. Perhaps the simplest example is California; if a wine is to be labeled as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it is required to have at least 75% of the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 85% of the fruit must be cultivated from the Napa Valley wine district. If the wine does not meet the requirements, it is then labeled as Proprietary Blend.

Country Italy : Italy is renowned as one of the world’s greatest gastronomic havens; from certified Prosciutto di Parma to the sea-side seafood eateries on the island of Sicily. However, this epicurean experience could not possibly be as hedonistic without the ethereal combination of the country’s plethora of fine wines. It seems unfair that a nation should be able to boast, both, some of the world’s greatest cuisine as well as its greatest wines. Italian wine is one of the most sought after in the world, and has become the second most produced in the world, behind only France.



Stretching an impressive 736 miles from northern Italy to the peninsula’s southern tip, the country’s geography generates an enormous array of topography, climate and soil structure. This is an extremely important quality of its winegrowing and making industry which lays claim to nearly 550 different grape varietals, which all desire their own necessities, in terms of terroir and climate.



The still red wines of Italy truly characterize the nation’s vast and expansive terroir; Nebbiolo dominates Piedmont, where Barolo and Barbaresco reign king and queen of the region’s production. Hailing from Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany, the rockstar Sangiovese grape has become synonymous with greatness. Vin Santo sweet wines have taken on a mighty feat of competing with the glorious wines of Sauternes, and of course, Prosecco. Prosecco, located in Trieste (northeast Italy) and its creation of luxuriously effervescent styles of wine has become Italy’s answer to Champagne. The Glera grape variety, which has become synonymous with the name Prosecco, is the main ingredient and is beloved in the appellation where the village of Prosecco’s name has become world renowned.



The blurred boundary between Italy and the countries of Slovenia and Austria, where German influence still resonates through Friuli wines. The prevalence of Riesling and other such grape varietals is high in this region and have become extremely popular on today’s market.



With nearly 702,000 hectares of grapevines covering the massive and diverse landscape, Italy’s annual average of 48.3 million hectoliters of wine production is second only to France in terms of volume and Spain in terms of hectares of vines. The country is vast and overwhelming when it comes to the culinary arts, but perhaps even this is overshadowed by its production of some of the world’s most sought after wines, whether the omnipresent Chianti to the highly collectible and sought after Amarone della Valpolicalla.


Region Tuscany : Italian culture worships the concept of a shared meal, and their wines scream for a chance to be uncorked with your friends and family. The region's Mediterranean climate and hilly landscape combine to create a beautiful viticultural environment, where every chosen grape is brought to its full potential and transmuted into drinks worthy of gods. The vineyards are planted along the higher reaches of the hill slopes, creating a gorgeous view of the Italian landscape.

Once your lips kiss the wine, you're sent spiraling down a veritable whirlpool of pure flavor, touching upon notes of sensuous cherry, nuts, floral hints and undertones of honey and minerals. The wines can be as sweet as a fresh summer romance, and carry an air of dignity and elegance about them that can stimulate your intellect for months as you contemplate the seemingly infinite intricacies and details in the texture. Tuscany is an important part of Italian viticulture, and sampling their wines is the closest you can get to visiting this heavenly region and experiencing the culture.
Subregion Bolgheri Sassicaia

Overview

Producer Tenuta San Guido : The story of Tenuta San Guido, perhaps the most famous of all Italian wine estates, all began because one man was curious, fearless and determined enough to create a fine Bordeaux style wine, only at home in Tuscany. Thanks to the persistent experimentation and foresight of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta, an Italian legend was born; a wine that broke all the rules and led to the creation of the original Super Tuscan – Sassicaia. The estate is much better known by its most famous, flag-ship wine, which shan’t be faulted as Sassicaia is one of the most legendary Italian wines in history, one which broke barriers and helped start an Italian wine renaissance in the 1970s.

Mario Incisa della Rochetta, a Piedmontese agronomist who’d fought as part of the Calvary during WWI, returned to Bolgheri with his beloved horse and the dream of creating a ‘thoroughbred’ wine. Through his equestrian love, he met Clarice della Gheradesca, who he wed in 1930. Afterwards the two began breeding race horses (the most famous Italian racehorse of all time, Ribot, came from their stables). Since money was no object due to the breeding profits, Mario began investing in his wife’s inherited property. His in-depth knowledge of agriculture led to the property flourishing with fruit, vegetables and even flowers. His focus would eventually turn to wine and the estate that we know today as Tenuta San Guido.

At that time, aristocracy was drinking the finest Bordeaux available. Mario, being born into nobility, had tasted many of the great Chateaux so his ideal wine was Bordeaux. However, making wine from Cabernet Sauvignon was a controversial decision in Tuscany where the tradition had always been to produce quality wines from indigenous varieties, most particularly Sangiovese. Mario’s vision was revolutionary in the world of wine and one that would change the entire landscape of Italian winemaking.

As an expert in the science of soil management and crop production, Mario understood the similarities between the rocky terrain which distinguishes the Bordeaux area of Graves (or gravel in French) and the gravely vineyard sites in Tuscan, which impart the same characteristics on Sassicaia ‘stony ground’ as its cherished, French brother. Recognizing the similarity of the Bolgherian climate (dry and sunny, but windy) to that of Bordeaux and the potential for the region to create long-lived, exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, he directed his efforts to making a success of this celebrated grape in Bolgheri. The vineyards began to take shape at Tenuta San Guido on the Tyrrhenian Coast (where it remains today) with cuttings from a 50 year old vineyard in Pisa at which he both studied at and frequented.

The Marchese’s first vintages were not warmly welcomed as the local market was more accustomed to lighter, local wines. And thus for a long time, Sassicaia remained a private affair (1948-1967) consumed only by guests and those at Tenuta San Guido. It wasn’t until 1968 that Sassicaia made an official, commercial release (greatly urged by friends of Mario to do so). The Marchese soon realized that by ageing the wine, it improved considerably (much like that of Bordeaux). Despite the wine’s increasingly superior quality and selling exponentially higher than DOC (Denominazione di Origine) wines, Sassicaia was classified as an IGT (basic table wine). Undeterred, Mario continued to experiment with his project, ageing and refining his wine, while disregarding DOC guidelines.

In 1978, Sassicaia emerged victorious in the Decanter blind tasting in which it was pitted against 33 other Cabernet inspired blends from around the world, thrusting the wine into elite company. The name, Sassicaia, began to become a familiarity with high end purchasing trends in Europe and eventually finding its way to America, where it was dubbed ‘Super Tuscan’. In 1994, a historic decision by the Italian authorities granted Tenuta Sand Guido its own DOC, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC. It is the only wine from a single estate in Italy to enjoy such an honor. A phenomenal achievement for a wine once classified as a basic IGT.

The vineyards of Tenuta San Guido cover 90 hectares and are divided into areas chosen for the particular characteristics of both exposure and composition of soil. Vines are planted on hillsides at an altitude ranging from 200 to 300 meters above sea level, on stony, clay and limestone soils, similar to those of Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in gravel sites, while Merlot can be found in more clayey soils; optimal terroir for each. Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese are also planted in the vineyards in site-specific locations according to soil type.

The flag-ship, Sassicaia, is an invariable blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and has an annual production of 180,000 to 20,000 bottles. The estate’s second wine, Guidalberto (a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot) was created with the desire to see what could be accomplished with Merlot and the desire to offer the consumer a wine which could be appreciated at a younger age compared to the Veteran Sassicaia. Guidalberto was named after Nicolo Incisa’s (Mario’s son and director of Tenuta San Guido) great great great grandfather who inspired him with his many experimentations at cultivating numerous different varieties in Tuscany. Le Difese, which is generally 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese, is their entry level label; a Toscana IGT made for immediate drinking within two or three years and is extremely supple making it very pleasant and drinkable.

Tenuta San Guido is truly a story of love, passion and a racehorse that would not be held back. The reigns were release and Mario’s thoroughbred turned heads and brought the Italian wine industry into a category it had not previously enjoyed – elite, much like Sassicaia, itself.

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