2017 Guidalberto, Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany, Italy
A firm and silky red with just a hint of jam. Full body, polished tannins and a long, long finish. Tight now. 92-93 Points, James Suckling
This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, and is the 'second wine' to the winery's celebrated and iconic Sassicaia, from three vineyard sites surrounding Bolgheri. The varieties are vinified separately before blending and maturation in French and American oak.
The Guidalberto shares the wonderful elegance and finesse found in Sassicaia. The wine spends 20 months in one-third new oak barrels. The wine is delightful from early on but has the ability to age well, and thus can be a perfect wine to cellar.
Within the estate of Tenuta San Guido, in the hills close to the Tuscan coast, between Livorno and Grosseto, are some beautiful, historical buildings, including the Castiglioncello di Bolgheri, a retreat which dates back to AD 780, and the Oratorio di San Guido, the 1803 church at the end of a classic Tuscan avenue of tall cypresses.
However, it was in the early 20th century that even more historic foundations were established on the Tenuta San Guido estate. When he acquired the property in the 1930s, the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta noted the similarity between the stony ground of his land, as well as the sea breezes coming in off the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the terroir of Graves in Bordeaux. When planting began in the 1940s, he opted primarily for Cabernet Sauvignon, rather than the province’s dominant Sangiovese grape. For several decades, the Bordeaux-style wine produced from that Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Cabernet Franc, was a strictly private treat. But when, in 1968, Sassicaia wine was finally released to the world, it revolutionised Italian wine, creating a new genre: the Super-Tuscan.
It was the Marchese’s son Nicolò who pushed for the move to commercial production, along with his cousin and nephew Piero Antinori (who also happened to be a member of a longer established winemaking family). They called on the expertise of the late Giacomo Tachis, who introduced innovations such as a switch to fermentation in steel but ageing en barrique. Soon, Sassicaia wine established the region’s reputation and led to the 1994 declaration of the DOC Bolgheri.
The 21st century has seen further development under Marchese Nicolò. The estate has pursued a number of new projects, including converting an old olive press into a new cantina and the production of two further wines: Guidalberto and Le Difese.
Named after his ancestor, Guidalberto della Gherardesca, who was an agricultural pioneer in Bolgheri in the early 19th century, the estate’s second wine Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto was born of a desire to explore how Merlot would grow in Tenuta San Guido. At first (2000 to 2003 vintages), the equation also included Sangiovese but it has settled into a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot blend, which can be appreciated at a younger age than Sassicaia.