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Parker: Ample, sweet and expansive, the 2003 Sassicaia offers generous notes of sweet dark fruit intermingled with notes of spices, herbs, earthiness and smoke in a full-bodied, opulent expression of this wine. It is an outstanding effort for the vintage. Some cellaring is suggested although with air this wine is drinking beautifully right now. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2023. Niccolo Incisa della Rocchetta is upbeat about his 2003s. “Of course it was a very hot, dry vintage, but under these circumstances Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc tended to perform better than other varietals such as Merlot. I am happy with the balance of our Sassicaia although clearly we can’t call it a ‘classic’ vintage. Sassicaia is a wine that needs bottle age to show its full potential and I am confident the 2003 will age well. Today it reminds me most of the 1978.”
After almost 30 years of experimentation and solid work the Marquis decided to release Sassicaia´s 1968 vintage to the open market using his cousin´s, Antinori´s distribution network in the early 1970s, with instant sensation. At a Decanter tasting of Cabernet wines in London, 1978, Sassicaia from vintage 1972 beat all the other 33 wines of France and California, and since then Sassicaia has been one of the leading wines in the world and in great demand among wine collectors and investors. The marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta passed away in 1983. His son, Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta, now oversees all estate operations.
Sassicaia means “the place of many stones,” and refers to the region’s gravel soil. The original vineyards have a southwest exposure with extensive sun and maritime breezes that create robust vegetation. The grapes were handpicked, destemmed and crushed before fermenting with natural yeasts for 15 days in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged in French oak barriques (40% new) for 24 months, then refined for 6 months in bottle before release.
Until mid May, rainfall and temperatures stayed in the seasonal average, allowing for good water retention of the ground during the summer months. Summer was particularly hot, but being so close to the sea, temperatures never reached the high values of inland Tuscany. The climate was extremely dry and warm until the picking.
Harvest: The maturation of the grapes was ideal, especially for their aromatic and tasting components, combined with a good thickness of the skins, full with scents and tannins. Harvesting began in the first days of September, and lasted for about three
Wine making: The grapes were accurately selected before the time of maceration on the skins, which lasted for about 16-18 days. The maceration allowed a complete diffusion of the poliphenols contained in the skins of the must. This preceded a very precocious malolactic fermentation.
Ageing: At the beginning of November the wine began its ageing period of 24 months in french oak barriques, one third new. The further ageing took place for 6 months in the bottles before the wine was released on the market, allowing the development of the bouquet.
Tasting notes: The “terroir” of Bolgheri, and especially its proximity to the sea, the particular light, and the microclimate, are definetly favourable to Cabernet. Once again, these elements allowed for a great wine, even in a vintage which was difficult in the rest of
Tuscany. It is a characteristic of Sassicaia to expect great results even in these less celebrated vintages. And this tendency was even more reinforced in the last decade