Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuscan Royalty

My adult niece asked me once:  "Uncle John, why do you like wine so much?"

Over the decades, I've had the pleasure and absolute privilege to taste wines I've patiently cellared, and to try great wines at the generosity of others.  Many wines have impressed, many have been delicious, and  some have been exceptional.  And yet further still, others.....transcend.

The 1993 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia  is aristocratic royalty.  Born from the Tuscan Maremma, along the Bolgheri coast, this wine, from a "mediocre" vintage has once again proven my old addage true:  When in doubt, choose producer over vintage. Choose pedigree and artistry over the mercurial Tuscan weather.  

The 1993 Sassicaia was opened 30 minutes before dinner. I was a bit cautious given the age of the wine and even more concerned when the cork crumbled in half.  However, upon decanting, the wine smelled and looked perfect. 

Even after almost 20 years in the bottle, it's dark purple in the decanter.  In the glass, the color is more of a deep violet. With a single tilt of the glass, I could tell that greatness was on the table that night. The aromas are a classic blend of everything the Tuscan landscape has to offer:  Deep black plum fruit notes, cigar box, warm, claylike Maremma road dust, tobacco, espresso, piney rosemary notes, and an overall essence of Italian aristocracy blend with precision into one seamless bottle sweet bouquet that literally transports you to the Tuscan countryside. Imagine yourself here: Villas in Tuscany  overlooking the brushed filled country side, replete with olive trees, chestnut groves, and oceans of sunflowers all drenched in the Tuscan sun.  Let Sassicaia show you.....

The aroma can only be a stage setter for the tactile sensation that this nectar exhibits. Upon tasting, the flavors expand and wash over your palate in waves. Following the nose, sweet, bottle ripe velvety black plums are accented with herbs, pipe tobacco, crushed flowers, ground coffee, mint leaves, turned earth, and this unmistakable yet, undefinable essence that melds the entire parts into a symphony; a sort of "Qwan".  

This is not a mere beverage.  It is beyond.  It not only has the ability to satisfy thirst and enhance the table's wares. It transcends and transports. It augments reality for the taster - and that, my dear niece, is why.

1993 Sassicaia:  100 points

It's easy to discount "bad" vintages on the advice of  wine critics. However, trust in the maestros. Trust in those that turn grapes into liquid poetry. Trust in producer over vintage and be awed.



  1. Interesting poetry, and the value of this wine is?
    John I noticed that prices for the more current releases are around $150-$180, and JS scored the 2009 98 points; that's a wow!
    I hope that transcendence implied, includes nirvana;-)

  2. Dennis,

    I've had this wine a few times, though this wasn't my bottle. The one bottle I did buy (and drank several years ago) cost me about $50 - which was a lot back then. Given the "bad" vintage, I doubt this would be more than $75-100 now if you could find it. I don't buy this wine anymore as you note the price is silly (ditto Ornellaia) but it pays to have friends with deep cellars.