Tenuta san Guido / 2017 Sassicaia.

£265.00
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SKU:
EDF5345
Unit:
1 x 75cl Bottle
Rating:
94 Points / The Wine Advocate.
Tenuta san Guido / 2017 Sassicaia

 APPELLATION: D.O.C. Bolgheri Sassicaia (D.O.C. Sassicaia).

FIRST VINTAGE: 1968

GRAPES: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.

ALCOHOLIC CONTENT: 14,00%

PH: 3.46

TOTAL ACIDITY: 5.85

SUGAR: 0.20MG

TYPE OF SOILS: The soils are entirely located in the territorial delimitation of the D.O.C. Sassicaia. They have different and composite morphological characteristics, characterized by a strong presence of calcareous areas rich in galestro, as well as pebbles and stones (“Sassicaia” in local dialect means soil with many stones) and also partially clay. The vineyards are located at an altitude between 100 and 400 meters above sea level, facing West / South-West.

TRAINING SYSTEM: Spurred Cordon.

PLANTS DENSITY: Between 3,600 vines / ha to 5,550 vines / ha for older plants and 6,200 vines / ha for younger vineyards.

CLIMATIC TREND AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VINTAGE: The 2017 vintage was very hot and sometimes wrongly associated to 2003 or 2012. Actually, even though it was a year when the end of spring and summer were characterized by temperatures often above the norm, the vegetative conditions of the plants and the results in organoleptic terms of the grapes but above all of the wines produced in the territory of Bolgheri, are very pleasant. The autumn and the first part of the winter were characterized by rather harsh temperatures, caused by the north winds and accompanied by average rainfall. Conditions that have favoured the necessary vegetative standstill of the vines, favoured the natural elimination of the main parasites of the vine and also contributed to maintaining the necessary water reserves in the subsoil in balance. The drastic and somewhat bizarre change in temperatures that rose well above the average at the end of March, has conditioned the flowering but above all the setting, creating clusters of lesser development and sparse bunches with smaller size and a lower quantity of berries. As a consequence, we had a reduction in production volume around 18-20%.

The same cannot be said for the quality of the grapes, there was a very sustainable condition for the vines that reached a regularly maturation although the summer was very hot. The rest of the summer was characterized by sunny days, high temperatures and no rains until the end of July. Around mid-August, time when the phenolic ripening of the grapes begun, a perturbation of Atlantic origin brought rains for 2 or 3 days and caused the temperatures to drop significantly. This allowed the plants to continue to carry out their phenolic ripening more than the technical one. The vegetative conditions of the vines and above all the vital functions have never suffered for stress conditions and this has allowed the plants to continue to carry out their photosynthetic capacity on a regular basis for the benefit of the phenolic action determining in the ripening of the grapes.

The rains that fell during the most crucial moment of the development of the vines have also allowed the berries to increase in weight and size thanks to cellular distension, diluting the concentration of sugars (glucose and fructose) while maintaining in perfect balance the good endowment of polyphenols. The temperature difference between night and day from Mid August to the end of September, have helped an extremely favourable conditions of primary and secondary aromas. Moreover this has facilitated the increase in acidity that was really indispensable to give freshness and elegance to the musts. Harvest: The entirely manual harvest began about 8 days in advance starting on August 30th with Cabernet Franc first and then with cabernet Sauvignon. The picking started with the vines on foothills and it was completed with the vineyards on the hills at about 360 meters above sea level (Vigna di Castiglioncello and Vigna del Quercione) between the end of September and the beginning of October.

WINEMAKING NOTES: Selection of grapes through a sorting table to eliminate impurities and any presence of camber. Soft pressing and destemming of grapes in order not to break the skins of the berries. Subsequent spontaneous alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of around 28 ° - 30 ° C (without the addition of external yeasts). The macerations lasted about 11-12 days for Cabernet Franc and 13-14 for Cabernet Sauvignon. Frequent pump-overs out door and frequent délestages during alcoholic fermentation have favoured elegant musts with good structure and excellent aromatic component. The spontaneous malolactic fermentation was then carried out in stainless steel tanks and was completed by the end of November.

AGING: At the end of malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to French oak barriques (one third new wood and the rest, first and second passage) where it rested for 24 months of aging period. During this time, the various masses have been kept separated according to the vineyard of origin and monitored. The blending of the selected mass one was made at the end of December, one month and a half prior to the preparation for bottling and subsequent refinement phase in the glass before marketing.

The 2017 Bolgheri Sassicaia is a fascinating wine that symbolizes a never-ending tug-of-war between vintner and vintage. The question is who comes out on top? In this case, my money is on the vintner. The 2017 vintage, characterized by scorching heat and drought across much of Italy, was not an easy one. However, vintners had ample time to prepare because those climatic challenges had already played out midway through the summer season. Vintners with experience such as that amassed at Tenuto San Guido (now on the eve of Sassicaia' s 50th birthday celebration) knew exactly how to handle the tricky 2017 growing season. Fruit was harvested early to avoid any jammy sensations, and a strict selection process was employed in order to preserve the best clusters. This Sassicaia represents 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Cabernet Franc, with most of the fruit coming from the Tenuto's historic vineyards Castiglioncello, Quercione and Doccino. These plots are all located on the back hill of Bolgheri at slightly higher elevations where they enjoy cooler night-time temperatures. Old vines also have a deeper root system that is key to braving dry and hot summers. You can absolutely taste those choices here thanks to the wine's aromatic profile that offers more variety-driven green highlights of wild berry, forest floor and bramble than I would have expected. With time, as the wine takes on more air in the glass, you get a hint of summer plum or cherry cough drop, and this, to my surprise, is the only subtle reminder of the hot vintage encountered. I found the aromas here to be authentically "Tuscan" in character, more so than other vintages, with balsamic and Mediterranean elements that borrow directly from the Sangiovese playbook. I left the wine in my glass over the course of a day, checking back periodically, to find a growing mineral profile of rust or metal that recalls the high concentration of iron and manganese found in these Bolgheri soils. Another vintage-specific adjustment made in 2017 was shorter overall maceration times in steel tanks (from 10 to 12 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon and eight to 10 days for the Cabernet Franc). However, pump-overs and délestages were almost doubled in order to introduce more oxygen to the yeasts during fermentations at lower temperatures. Based on my understanding of fermentation kinetics, this means the 2017 Sassicaia would have achieved the same amount of extraction in about half the time. This process champions the cool-temperature fermentations that are a hallmark of Tenuta San Guido, despite the heat of the vintage. This puts more emphasis on aromatic elegance and minerality, rather than mouth feel texture or creaminess per se. In fact, the 2017 Sassicaia is much shorter in the mid-palate compared to 2015 or 2016. In terms of oak, Tenuta San Guido takes advantage of the softer tannins found in Allier and Tronçais oak. The 2017 vintage saw a greater percentage (from 20% to 30%) of third and fourth passage barrique during the first 10 months of aging. The decision to use more neutral oak favours the reduction of oxygen and softens the tannic profile. Although the wine does end with a hint of bitterness, it took on noticeably more volume and soft richness the longer I kept my sample in the glass.

To recap my assessment, and with the memory of the 100-point 2016 vintage so fresh in my mind, I would give this wine a seven out of 10 in terms of aromas, a five out of 10 in terms of mid-palate, and an eight out of 10 in terms of structure. Another way to read those conclusions is as follows: The 2017 Sassicaia was expertly built to withstand a long aging future, yet only time will tell if the beauty of the bouquet will evolve at the same pace. This fascinating wine magically captures the hallmarks of cool-temperature winemaking in one of the hottest vintages in recent years. Vintners, not vintage, won this round - Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate, January 2020 Week 1.