Tenuta Guado al Tasso Cont Ugo 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Guado al Tasso Estate is located in the prestigious Bolgheri DOC, part of the Tuscan coastal area of Maremma, known for its untamed landscape and unspoiled beauty. Just 60 miles southwest of Florence, it sits on a magnificent plain in the heart of the Bolgheri amphitheater, a natural phenomenon created by hills that embrace the sea and produce a mild and temperate microclimate. Blessed with ample sunshine and constant breezes that take the edge off the summer heat and winter cold, Guado al Tasso is the ideal environment for cultivating healthy vine growth and proper ripening of the estate’s grapes. Inherited from Carlotta della Gherardesca, and revolutionized by Niccoló Antinori, the mother and father of Piero Antinori, Guado al Tasso is a reference point property in the life and history of the family. Here the challenge is to create wines of absolute excellence, always representative of the Bolgheri history, culture, and winemaking traditions.
An outstanding wine region made famous by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines for his own consumption in 1940s on his San Guido estate, and called the resulting wine, Sassicaia. Today the region’s Tuscan reds are based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which can be made as single varietal wines or blends. The local Sangiovese can make up no more than 50% of the blends. Today Sassicaia has its own DOC designation within the Bogheri DOC appellation.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot can be made into a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the best wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol where it is blended with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly from California’s Napa Valley.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.