Tenuta San Guido is named after the Saint Guido della Gherardesca who lived during the XI century. It is located on the Tyrrhenian coast, between Leghorn and Grosseto, in Maremma an area made famous by Italian Nobel prize winner Giosuè Carducci, and it stretches for 13 km from the sea to the hills.
Three are its defining characteristics: the Sassicaia wine, the Razza Dormello-Olgiata thoroughbred studfarm and the Bird Sanctuary Padule di Bolgheri. They divide the estate between the Padule on the coast, the horse’s training grounds on the plain, and the vineyards planted up to 350 meters on the hills. The latter have been given their own DOC, the DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, the first, and so far only case in Italy of a DOC contained in one estate.
The 2017 vintage, characterized by scorching heat and drought across much of Italy, was not an easy one. However, vintners had ample time to prepare because those climatic challenges had already played out midway through the summer season. Vintners with experience such as that amassed at Tenuta San Guido (now on the eve of Sassicaia’s 50th birthday celebration) knew exactly how to handle the tricky 2017 growing season. Fruit was harvested early to avoid any jammy sensations, and a strict selection process was employed in order to preserve the best clusters.
This Sassicaia represents 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Cabernet Franc, with most of the fruit coming from the Tenuta’s historic vineyards Castiglioncello, Quercione and Doccino. These plots are all located on the back hill of Bolgheri at slightly higher elevations where they enjoy cooler nighttime temperatures. Old vines also have a deeper root system that is key to braving dry and hot summers. You can absolutely taste those choices here thanks to the wine’s aromatic profile that offers more variety-driven green highlights of wild berry, forest floor and bramble than I would have expected. With time, as the wine takes on more air in the glass, you get a hint of summer plum or cherry cough drop, and this, to my surprise, is the only subtle reminder of the hot vintage encountered. I found the aromas here to be authentically “Tuscan” in character, more so than other vintages, with balsamic and Mediterranean elements that borrow directly from the Sangiovese playbook. I left the wine in my glass over the course of a day, checking back periodically, to find a growing mineral profile of rust or metal that recalls the high concentration of iron and manganese found in these Bolgheri soils. [94 Points, Monica Larner – January 2020, robertparker.com]