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Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2003

Bordeaux Red Blends from Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
  • W&S96
  • WS92
  • RP92
  • WE91
14% ABV
  • JS97
  • RP93
  • WE95
  • RP93
  • JS93
  • WE98
  • JS98
  • RP97
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14% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The legacy of Sassicaia begins in 1944, when Mario Incisa acquired a number of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc vine cuttings and planted them on a sloping hillside of the San Guido estate, called Castiglioncello after the 11th-century castle at the vineyard's upper edge. This tiny, 3.75-acre vineyard stood alone until 1965, when a second Cabernet vineyard was planted with cuttings from the Castiglioncello parcel; the gravelly, 30-acre plot would give the wine its name: Sassicaia, "the place of many stones". This and a slightly more elevated microclimate of 20 acres, called Aianova, were planted in phases between 1965 and 1985, bringing plantings to the present extent of 90 acres in vines averaging 20 to 25 years of age.

Since the late 1960s, Sassicaia has represented a standard of production that is without compromise. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed, crushed and fermentation is set off by natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. For the first week, pumping over of the must takes place three times daily; during the second week, this is reduced to once daily until the end of the 14-day fermentation period. The wine is pressed from the skins and undergoes full malolactic fermentation. Aging takes place in 225-litre Allier and Tronçais oak barriques, approximately 30 percent of which are new, for 18 to 22 months depending on vintage.

Sassicaia is a unique interpretation of the Cabernet variety, a wine of great breadth, complexity and longevity. The intense blackberry and cassis aromas, offset by notes of smoke and spice, are confirmed on a palate of lush concentration underscored by firm, ripe tannins carrying into a long, elegant finish.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
W&S 96
Wine & Spirits
Great terroirs often prove themselves in the most extreme vintages, as Sassicaia has done in the violent heat of 2003. The vineyard produced a supple, subtle and elegant wine. To describe the fruit character one might resort to analogies with black currant and smoky black tea, but it's more a textural experience for now, a mass of pleasure, hard to grasp. Its oak treatment delivers the kind of heady richness found in young Latour; its soil character provides a completely different context, though no less grand. Probably best starting at ten to fifteen years of age, this is balanced to develop for years after that.
WS 92
Wine Spectator
Lots of raspberry and cherry on the nose. Full-bodied and chunky with lots of fruit and a long, velvety finish. Hints of new wood. Big and juicy Sassicaia. Very well done for the vintage. Best after 2008.
RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2003 Bolgheri Sassicaia is full of unexpected twists and turns. Oddly enough, this vintage offered more overall freshness and balance than the much-celebrated 2004 edition. We all know that 2003 was a very difficult year with scorching hot temperatures that broke all records. Instead of jammy flavors or overt ripeness, this wine has embraced an all-balsam aromatic profile instead. The bouquet opens to dried cassis or red currant with eucalyptus, cola, grilled rosemary and medicinal herb. The tannins are silky and fully integrated within the wine's thick textural richness. There are areas that feel flat and sedate, but this is an impressive effort overall that shows impressive stability considering the challenges of the growing season.
WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
It's almost criminal to taste Sassicaia before its prime. The 2003 vintage should be ready after 2010. A blend of 85% Cab Sauvignon and 15% Cab Franc that aged 24 months in barrique, notes of cassis, exotic spice, menthol and green olive come through despite the hot vintage. It's powerful in the mouth with crispness and refined tannins.
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Tenuta San Guido

Tenuta San Guido

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Tenuta San Guido, , Italy
Tenuta San Guido
The Tenuta San Guido is a 7,500-acre estate located in the province of Livorno on the western coastal outskirts of Tuscany near the village of Bolgheri. Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta acquired it through his marriage to Clarice della Gherardesca in 1940.

The legacy of Sassicaia began in 1944, when Mario Incisa acquired a number of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc vine cuttings and planted them on a sloping hillside of the San Guido estate, called Castiglioncello after the 11th-century castle at the vineyard's upper edge. This tiny, 3.75-acre vineyard stood alone until 1965, when a second Cabernet vineyard was planted with cuttings from the Castiglioncello parcel; the gravelly, 30-acre plot would give the wine its name: Sassicaia, "the place of many stones".

With the radical changes in the D.O.C. system of regulations as of the 1994 vintage, Sassicaia's extraordinary reputation was acknowledged through the Italian government's granting the wine its own appellation.

Sassicaia is today considered to be the new plus ultra of Italy's great red wines for its consistent excellence and its intuitive spirit. Acclaimed by the wine world's most respected voices, Sassicaia remains the legacy of its creator, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, and his son, Marchese Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta.

Paso Robles

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Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, fruity, and powerful wines. With 11 smaller sub-AVAs, there is quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.

This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Rhône varieties both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruity, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

GUS88031_2003 Item# 88031

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