2018 Sassicaia

98
WE
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Product ID
2018-sassicaia
 

Wine Critic Reviews for 2018 Sassicaia

All about radiance and finesse, this iconic Tuscan red has beguiling aromas of cedar, wild red berry, menthol and pipe tobacco that mingle with fragrant blue flowers. Made with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, the focused, elegantly structured palate is vibrant and savory, delivering cassis, orange zest, licorice and a hint of coffee framed in taut, polished tannins. Bright acidity keeps it energized and balanced. Drink through 2033.

Wine Enthusiast | 98 WE
This is a classic vintage of an Italian icon now celebrating its 50th vintage. The Tenuta San Guido 2018 Bolgheri Sassicaia lays out a familiar blueprint that borrows from the proven track record of this landmark estate that extends into the hills just beyond the Tyrrhenian shores of Tuscany. This vintage is crystalline and pure in its delivery, and if you are familiar with previous editions, it is impossible to mistake this wine for anything but Sassicaia.

The growing season started off cool and wet but turned to warm and dry conditions comfortably before the harvest. Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc in a supporting role deliver a graceful mid-weight texture that holds back style-wise in terms of phenolic density. The wine's careful balance is achieved thanks to the nuanced character of the fruit, the present acidity, the well-managed structure and the contained alcohol. The palate is lifted and bright, the finish is polished and long, and the wine skips over any heaviness on the mid-palate. The bouquet is especially intriguing with a very lively plummy fruit element that is enhanced by baker's chocolate, pepper spice, iron ore, caramel and pie crust. There is also a green character that adds positively to the bouquet with aniseed, tea leaf, soya, menthol rub and black olive. The fruit maturity is spot-on with no elements that feel over or underripe. Overall, the 2018 Sassicaia weighs in with a svelte frame and long persistence. Moreover, it is distinguished by the archetypal elegance and pedigree of the classic vintages of the past. This new release gives you much pleasure to await.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97+ RP
The 2018 Sassicaia is fabulous. Bright and beautifully poised, the 2018 opens with brilliant aromatics that make a strong first impression. Delicate and light on its feet, the 2018 is a regal wine that is going to need a number of years to come into its own. Sassicaia is the most finessed of Bolgheri’s top wines. That is very much the case in 2018 as well. I loved it.

A cold winter led to a late spring and delayed start to the year. May and June saw some heat, but only moderate temperatures. Only July was truly warm, with minimal diurnal shifts. Cool winds arrived again in August, and temperatures dropped quickly, especially at night. Mid-August saw some rain. Harvest started on September 7 with the Franc and wrapped up on the 29th with the last of Cabernet Sauvignon. The year favored the estate’s oldest vineyards, those on hillside sites. The 2018 spent 19 months in oak, two-thirds new, a bit more new oak than the norm. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Franc, a bit less Franc than is often the case, as Franc suffered more under the conditions of the season.

Antonio Galloni | 97 AG
Beautiful, serene aromas of sweet berries and wild flowers with light lavender and fresh sage. Really aromatic. A firm, silky red with medium to full body and ultra fine tannins that are polished and beautiful. Lots of blue fruit and blackberries follow through to a beautiful finish. Really tight and polished. Bright acidity. Will be lovely to drink in a few years. The 2017 and 2016 were about power, but the 2018 is about finesse and subtlety. Try after 2024.

James Suckling | 97 JS
At Sassicaia in 2018, the replenished water reserves in the soil, combined with a long and moderate growing season, gave a cool and classic wine. It emphasizes elegance over opulence, subtlety over power. The wine feels cool and lithe, with a midweight frame that gives full expression to high-toned flavors of plum and raspberry. Those red berry flavors gain brightness, depth and precision with time in the glass, maintaining superb balance through the long finish.

Wine and Spirits | 96 W&S
Refined and complex, this red is all about finesse and restraint, starting out with floral and black currant flavors that build steadily on the palate, with olive, cedar, tobacco and spice notes adding detail as this lingers on the terrific finish. Needs five to seven years to fully emerge. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2025 through 2045. 25,000 cases made, 4,000 cases imported.

Wine Spectator | 96 WS
Notes of woodsmoke, blackcurrants and a hint of mint. Tobacco and cigar box add complexity. Dark, dense and concentrated. Nominated by Aldo Fiordelli. (Drink between 2022-2035)

Decanter | 95 DEC

Wine Details on 2018 Sassicaia

More Information
Producer Sassicaia: 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.

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
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.

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.

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