Tasting Sassicaia — one of the most soughtafter fine wines in the world

at the Wine Rack

With Christopher Reckord

Thursday, September 15, 2016

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It proved somewhat of a challenge - incredibly - to convene a group of busy wine lovers to enjoy with chef/patron Pierluigi ‘PG’ Ricci of the multi-award-winning Italian restaurant Toscanini, a bottle of one of his prized possessions. Acccording to the wine press: "one of the greatest wines in the world;" "Sassicaia, the most collectible Italian wine"; "one of the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon wines"; "one of the most sought-after fine wines in the world" - and these are merely a few quotes on the celebrated Italian red wine.


Breaking the rules - Super Tuscans


In Italy, like most countries in Europe, the government regulates the type of grapes that can be grown in a certain region, similarly to how our coffee is regulated. Many years ago, a number of winemakers decided to break with tradition and grow varietals that were grown in other countries and not be shackled by the government laws. As a result of this they could not put the official region names on their wines, and they were classified as ‘vino da tavola’- Italy’s lowest wine designation. These producers had to come up with interesting names for their products. These wines became unofficially classified as "Super Tuscans," a term conjured up by the press and customers. Eventually the government modified the rules in an attempt to bring them back into some sort of regulation. The success of Sassicaia which inspired Tignanello contributed greatly to this.


Way ahead of its time


A wine made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon was a fundamental change to the Tuscan and Piedmont tradition of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, respectively. The innovative decision to plant this variety at the family’s Tenuta San Guido was partly due to the similarity between this Tuscan terrain and that of Graves in Bordeaux. Made in the 1940s and initially consumed only by the family, friends and visitors, Sassicaia entered the world stage, after much prodding in 1968, to critical acclaim with its first international release, and thus the Super Tuscan Pioneer was born. Sassicaia is so distinctive it was granted its own DOC - Bolgheri Sassicaia - as of 1994 - a first for any Italian wine. PG brought not one, but two different vintages of Sassicaia for us to enjoy, the 2006 and the most sought-after 1985.


2006 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido


Absolutely delicious, rich, powerful, yet elegant, with concentrated black fruit notes is what came to mind as I tasted the 2006 Sassicaia, which is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. My fellow tasters - Select Brands executives, the husband-and-wife team of David and Tania McConnell - loved this wine, but we were all very intrigued with the ever-changing, ever- evolving, mesmerising 1985 Sassicaia in the other glass.


1985 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido


When you sit with fellow wine lovers and share a bottle of one of the greatest wines ever produced, it’s more of an experience than a tasting. Here is what the world’s leading wine critic had to say about this wine: 100 points - James Suckling in the Wine Spectator - "No wine has ever been as great as this from Sassicaia, and it is one of the best wines Italy has ever produced - June 1989"; 100 points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate- "I have had this wine in tastings with 1985 and 1986 Bordeaux first-growths and top 1985 California Cabernets. In each tasting the 1985 Sassicaia has not only been my favourite, but the first choice of the majority of the tasters. Unquestionably one of the most compelling and dramatic Cabernet Sauvignons I have ever tasted, it continues to go from strength to strength. The colour remains an opaque black/purple, and the huge nose of minerals, licorice, blackcurrants, and smoky oak is persistent and intense. With extraordinary richness, full body, unbelievable concentration, and a moderately tannic, opulent finish, this thrilling wine remains young and largely unevolved. It has at least 20-25 years of longevity."


On behalf of my fellow tasters I would like to thank Pierluigi ‘PG’ Ricci for this once-in-a-lifetime experience; it’s now our turn to reciprocate.





Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

    

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