We’re sure that you’ve heard of The Wine Spectator. It’s one of the world’s most prestigious wine magazines and thousands of people all around the world trust its reviews to help them make their choices when it comes to Italian wine.
Every year, the magazine chooses one wine as the best of the year. This is always a wine of such spectacular quality that it wows everybody at the publication. And typically, the wine ends up selling extremely well as a result of the recommendation.
With that in mind, let us take you back to 2018.
This is when the Bolgheri-Sassicaia Sassicaia 2015 hit the market. An interesting Super Tuscan, the wine ended up winning the award of wine of the year. The Wine Spectator gave it a rating of 97/100, with the magazine describing it as follows:
“Dense yet lively, structured yet impeccably balanced, with vibrant acidity driving the long, fruit-filled aftertaste. The oak is beautifully integrated.”
It was a phenomenal example of Italian red wine and one that we fully recommend to anybody reading this.
And yet, Sassicaia isn’t a household name in the Italian wine industry. If you ask the average person to name some red wines, they’ll reel off the likes of Chianti, Barolo, Barbaresco, and many others before they get to Sassicaia, assuming they get to it at all!
Our point is that not a lot of people have heard of this wine.
That’s why we’re writing this article. Now that you know that Sassicaia is one of the best wines around, it’s time to learn about what makes it so brilliant. Here are a few things that you need to know about Sassicaia.
Item #1 – It Was the First Super Tuscan
When we talk about the Super Tuscans, Tignanello is often the first wine that comes to mind. Made by the Antinori family, it became the wine that spearheaded the movement.
But it wasn’t the first Super Tuscan.
In fact, it was far from it as Sassicaia got there at least a year before. It was the makers of Sassicaia who first came up with the idea of blending Cabernet Sauvignon with Tuscany’s famous Sangiovese grape. And it was this wine that took a large portion of the backlash for this innovation when it first hit the scene.
Unfortunately, Sassicaia didn’t receive the same accolades as Tignanello when the Super Tuscans were eventually accepted by the wider wine community. However, it’s just as responsible for the changes in DOC certification as any of the other wines from the era, perhaps even more so as it was one of the first.
Item #2 – Sassicaia Always Shunned Tradition
The innovation behind the rise of the Super Tuscans wasn’t the only time that the makers of this wine shunned tradition and carved out their own paths. If we look all the way back to 1944, we see the owners of the company planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in their vineyards.
Why was this a big deal?
Traditionally, Tuscan winemakers focus on the grapes that come specifically from that region. This was one of the major issues that people had with the Super Tuscans many years later. In shunning tradition and using non-native grape varieties, the makers of Sassicaia immediately set themselves apart as innovators at a time when tradition was everything in the Italian wine industry.
Item #3 – The Winery’s Founder Originally Didn’t Make Wine At All!
We can trace the origins of Sassicaia back to the brilliant Mario Incisa. However, Mario didn’t always have designs on being a winemaker. An agronomist by trade, Mario originally grew grains, vegetables, and fruit on his land. On top of that, he built a reputation for growing stunning tulips that were among the best in the world.
It wasn’t until several years after coming into ownership of his Tuscan land that he turned his attention to grapes. And as we’ve already covered, he did it in a way that shocked the Tuscan system.
So again, we see a lack of convention in the creation of the Sassicaia wine. However, we also see amazing foresight on the part of Mario. His area of Tuscany was predominantly marshy, which led to low-quality yields of Sangiovese. By switching to a different grape, Mario could create quality wines based on his land, rather than the traditions imposed on it. This is just one example of how somebody who comes from outside the wine industry can lend a new perspective to it.
Item #4 – Sassicaia Really Struggled Initially
In talking about the Super Tuscans, we mentioned that Sassicaia faced quite a lot of backlash from traditionalists.
However, we didn’t dig into how deep that backlash went! For several decades after its introduction, Sassicaia struggled to get a foothold in the Italian wine industry. This wasn’t due to a lack of quality. In fact, it all came down to people not wanting to buy a wine that didn’t fit their expectations of the Tuscan region.
This may be why Sassicaia doesn’t have as stellar a reputation as it should have. It took several decades for people to start accepting the wine. And it’s only in recent years that people have recognised it as one of the best in the world.
Item #5 – Blind Taste Tests Showed its Quality Long Before it Was Popular
The year was 1978 and the event was a blind taste testing of 30 Bordeaux blends from around the world.
The makers of Sassicaia entered their 1972 vintage…
And they came out on top by a long margin! Even back in the 1970s, those in the know recognised that Sassicaia had immense quality. It would just take the rest of the wine drinking world several decades to catch up.
The Final Word
Perhaps you’ve never had the privilege of drinking a glass of Sassicaia before.
If so, we suggest now may be the perfect time to change that. This is a wine that paved the way for many of the innovators that we see in the Tuscany region today. And as the 2018 Wine Spectator results show us, it’s a wine of unrivalled quality.
Find the 2017 vintage in the Xtrawine store today.