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    roast Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Sauce

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Sassicaia 2017 released – “a wild, exotic beauty”

By Liv-ex

Sassicaia 2017 has been released in the UK at £1,700 per 12×75.

The perfect Sassicaia 2016 was released at £1,270 per case (25% discount) this time last year but in minuscule quantities; since then, the 2016 has risen 88% in value.

According to the Wine Advocate, production volumes in 2017 were reduced by about 15%.

But prices for Sassicaia have been on a steady upward trend of late. The Italy 100, of which Sassicaia is a major component, was the best-performing index in 2019, and is up 5% over a one-year period. Our report on the fine wines of Italy, published in September, provided detailed analysis on the factors behind this impressive performance.

Today’s release achieved 94 points from the Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner, who described it as a “fascinating wine [that] magically captures the hallmarks of cool-temperature winemaking in one of the hottest vintages in recent years”.

In her tasting note, Larner recognised the challenges during the growing season and the vintners’ skill in handling them. Compared to the 100-point 2016 Sassicaia, however, she gives “this wine a seven out of 10 in terms of aromas, a five out of 10 in terms of mid-palate, and an eight out of 10 in terms of structure”.

For Antonio Galloni (Vinous), the “sumptuous and flamboyantly ripe” 2017 Sassicaia “captures all the personality of the year in spades”. He scored it 92-95 points. Prices for Sassicaia have historically shown 59% correlation to Galloni’s scores. At this price point, the 2017 is positioned very close to the Fair Value line.

Other vintages to consider include the 2010, 2012, 2009, 2013 – all available at a discount, with some age and a higher score from the critic.


The Story

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.


Wine Information

Climate trend and characteristics of the year: The 2017 vintage was very hot and sometimes wrongly associated to 2003 or 2012. Actually, even though it was a year when the end of spring and summer were characterized by temperatures often above the norm, the vegetative conditions of the plants and the results in organoleptic terms of the grapes but above all of the wines produced in the territory of Bolgheri, are very pleasant. The autumn and the first part of the winter were characterized by rather harsh temperatures, caused by the north winds and accompanied by average rainfall. Conditions that have favored the necessary vegetative standstill of the vines, favored the natural elimination of the main parasites of the vine and also contributed to maintaining the necessary water reserves in the subsoil in balance. The drastic and somewhat bizarre change in temperatures that rose well above the average at the end of March, has conditioned the flowering but above all the setting, creating clusters of lesser development and sparse bunches with smaller size and a lower quantity of berries. As a consequence, we had a reduction in production volume around 18-20%.

The same cannot be said for the quality of the grapes, there was a very sustainable condition for the vines that reached a regularly maturation although the summer was very hot.
The rest of the summer was characterized by sunny days, high temperatures and no rains until the end of July. Around mid-August, time when the phenolic ripening of the grapes begun, a perturbation of Atlantic origin brought rains for 2 or 3 days and caused the temperatures to drop significantly. This allowed the plants to continue to carry out their phenolic ripening more than the technical one. The vegetative conditions of the vines and above all the vital functions have never suffered for stress conditions and this has allowed the plants to continue to carry out their photosynthetic capacity on a regular basis for the benefit of the phenolic action determining in the ripening of the grapes.

The rains that fell during the most crucial moment of the development of the vines have also allowed the berries to increase in weight and size thanks to cellular distension, diluting the concentration of sugars (glucose and fructose) while maintaining in perfect balance the good endowment of polyphenols. The temperature difference between night and day from Mid August to the end of September, have helped an extremely favorable conditions of primary and secondary aromas.

Moreover this has facilitated the increase in acidity that was really indispensable to give freshness and elegance to the musts. Harvest: The entirely manual harvest began about 8 days in advance starting on August 30th with Cabernet Franc first and then with cabernet Sauvignon. The picking started with the vines on foothills and it was completed with the vineyards on the hills at about 360 meters above sea level (Vigna di Castiglioncello and Vigna del Quercione) between the end of September and the beginning of October.


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Written Notes

The balance and beauty to this is impressive, offering sweet, ripe currants and flowers with some crushed-stone and dry-earth undertones. Full-bodied with soft, polished tannins and a long, creamy-textured finish. It’s polished, yet concentrated. Better after 2022, but already very seductive.

  • 96p

I was rather disappointed by the first bottle of this wine I tasted, finding the acidity a bit too intrusive, so decided to open the back-up bottle. This time the wine seemed to have a bit more substance and fruit impact in the middle. The strongest impression created is of balsam and wet stones. It is certainly very unlike any of its fleshier, riper, oakier neighbours. It may well develop more nobility with time in bottle and it already has encouraging persistence, but if you intend to drink it in the first few years of the second decade of the twenty-first century, open and decant it an hour or three ahead and serve it with fairly subtle food.

  • 90.5p
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Toscana, Tuscany

Inside Information

Winemaking notes: Selection of grapes through a sorting table to eliminate impurities and any presence of camber.Soft pressing and destemming of grapes in order not to break the skins of the berries. Subsequent spontaneous alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of around 28 ° - 30 ° C (without the addition of external yeasts). The macerations lasted about 11-12 days for Cabernet Franc and 13-14 for Cabernet Sauvignon. Frequent pump-overs out door and frequent délestages during alcoholic fermentation have favored elegant musts with good structure and excellent aromatic component. The spontaneous malolactic fermentation was then carried out in stainless steel tanks and was completed by the end of November.

Ageing: At the end of malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to French oak barriques (one third new wood and the rest, first and second passage) where it rested for 24 months of aging period. During this time, the various masses have been kept separated according to the vineyard of origin and monitored. The blending of the selected mass one was made at the end of December, one month and a half prior to the preparation for bottling and subsequent refinement phase in the glass before marketing.

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