In 2016, wine critic Jane Anson had the opportunity to try 44 different Sassicaia vintages in a single day. By the end of the tasting, she was “approaching sensory overload,” but she never got tired of the wine. Anson said the Sassicaia vintages displayed an excellent balance that kept them from being overpowering. She said, “[It’s] almost impossible to imagine another European Cabernet-based wine, tasted through this many vintages, managing to pull off this gentle physicality.” In particular, Anson enjoyed the 2014, 2010, 2006, 2001, 1996, and 1985 vintages, as they were especially refined, complex, and aromatic.
It’s these qualities that attract collectors to Tenuta San Guido’s iconic Sassicaia label year after year, and which make them valuable on the secondary market. If you would like to invest in these spectacular wines, this Sassicaia vintage guide will help you find the best bottles in the label’s history. Using professional tasting notes, vintage charts, and the latest market values, we’ve come up with a list of the Sassicaia vintages that every collector should own.
What Makes Sassicaia So Collectible?
Sassicaia played an integral role in the evolution of Italian wine. It was the very first Super Tuscan ever released. In the late 1940s, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta brought Bordeaux grapes to Tuscany to make wine for his personal use. He thought that the fast-draining, rocky soil on his Bolgheri estate would be perfect for cultivating Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, this is where Sassicaia got its name–the word roughly translates to “stony field.” The Marchese’s estate had similar terroir to that of the Médoc and the non-indigenous grapes absolutely thrived under these conditions. The wine produced by the estate was as elegant and balanced as fine Bordeaux and had soft tannins that made it approachable and charming in its youth.
The 2015 Sassicaia vintage was the second most-traded fine wine on the secondary market in 2018.
The Marchese continued to make wine privately until 1967, when his son and nephew convinced him to put the wine on the market. The first Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia vintage was released in 1968 and was an instant hit. Other producers in Tuscany soon took inspiration from the estate and released their own Super Tuscans in the 1970s. Today, San Guido is widely considered to be one of the best Italian wine producers and Sassicaia remains one of the most valuable and highly-rated wines in the world. The 2015 Sassicaia vintage was the second most-traded fine wine on the secondary market in 2018, behind only the recently released 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal.
Not only do Sassicaia wines have value and historical significance, but they are also consistently high in quality from year to year. The average aggregated critic score for all Sassicaia vintages in history is 94 points and many of the best vintages receive perfect scores. With so many top-quality wines to choose from, where should you start? We’ve split our Sassicaia vintage guide into two categories–young and old wines–to help you make your decision.
Recent Sassicaia Vintages: A Guide to the Best Young Wines
Some critics believe that the quality of Sassicaia wines has increased significantly over the past 20 years. James Suckling has said that mid- and late-2000s Sassicaia, in particular, is exceptional. He said, “I don’t think we have seen so many excellent vintages from the famous Cabernet Sauvignon-based Tuscan red since the 1980s.” If you want to drink the best Sassicaia vintages, then buying young wine is a good option. Many of the wines made in the last 15 years are ready to drink now or can be held for another decade or two. Since these wines have plenty of time in which to appreciate in value before they pass their peak, buying them young is also a good option for those looking to make a return on investment.
Seek out the top-rated vintages in order to get the most out of your collection.
Whatever your reasons are for buying young Sassicaia, seek out the top-rated vintages in order to get the most out of your collection. Our Sassicaia vintage guide below lists the best recent years according to Jancis Robinson and her guest contributors. The vintages below were rated by Robinson unless noted otherwise:
- 2016 (18.5 points on a 20-point scale): Master of Wine Tim Jackson says it has “very fine, very firm tannins, with a line of acidity helping to give structure. Very long, delicate, scented finish.” Drink between 2019 and 2032.
- 2009 (17.5 points): Jackson says it has “notably grainier, firmer tannins than the 2016–a bigger and more robust wine.” Drink now through 2026.
- 2007 (18 points): “So delicate. Fresh and really rather elegant. A very sophisticated wine.” Drink now through 2028.
- 2006 (17+ points): “Hotter year than 2007. . . Strongly ripe Cabernet Sauvignon on the nose.” Drink now through 2027.
- 2004 (18 points): “Very gentle palate entry and nicely melded.” Drink now through 2025.
- 2003 (17.5 points): Master of Wine Julia Harding says it is “more herbal and perfumed and open than the 2006.” Drink now.
The list above includes the finest wines released in the past 15 years. Looking back through the estate’s history, there are many other great, and age-worthy, vintages that are worth a space in your cellar. We’ll take a look at these below.
Older Sassicaia Vintages: A Guide to Mature Wines
While many collectors like to invest in young wines that they can lay down, others prefer to buy older vintages that have already reached maturity or are closer to it. Sassicaia is a label that ages particularly well over the decades, so even wine made in the late 1960s can still be worth drinking today. If you’re interested in investing in older bottles, here’s a detailed Sassicaia vintage guide based on scores from Jancis Robinson and her guest contributors:
- 2001 (17.5+): “Very cool vintage. . . Very vigorous, but with lots still to give.” Drink now through 2025.
- 1999 (18 points): Julia Harding says it, “still has great balance and length and finishes with that mouthwatering freshness that is, for me, Sassicaia’s hallmark.” Drink now.
- 1998 (17.5 points): “Very grown up and savory and super complex on the nose.” Drink now.
- 1996 (17 points): Harding says there’s “dark cherry fruit on the palate and a fresh, surprisingly fluid finish with that fresh acidity even with the dryness of the tannins in the mid palate.” Drink now.
- 1995 (18 points): “Light and fragrant. . . Lovely now if you like grace.” Drink now through 2020. 1993 (18 points): Julia Harding says, “Mineral, dry and mouthwatering. Elegant and still has some sweetness. Less dry and better balance than the 1996.” Drink now.
- 1990 (17 points): “This looks like a 1990 in Bordeaux would. Great ripe fruit and some graphite overlay.” Drink now.
- 1988 (18.5 points): “Very ripe and assertive and almost right bank-like.” Drink now through 2020.
- 1985 (19.5 points): “A truly exceptional wine. . . So ripe and gorgeous on the nose still. Wonderful subtlety and velvetiness.” Drink now through 2020.
- 1982 (18.5 points): “Lively seductive nose. A little lighter than the 1985 but with sweetness and graphite and really lovely stuff.” Drink now.
- 1978 (18.5 points): “Quite a light vintage. . . Quite high in acidity.” Drink now.
- 1975 (19 points): “Lovely, silky, racy, complex palate with all the tannins melded.” Drink now.
Like many great wines, as Sassicaia ages, it becomes more powerful, layered, and complex. When Jancis Robinson had the opportunity to drink a dozen vintages in 2010, she said it was “one of the most inspiring and consistent tastings I can remember.” Some of the wines were quite old, yet they still tasted fresh and immensely complex. If you don’t have decades to wait for a top-quality young wine to mature, then consider investing in some of these iconic older vintages.
How to Maximize Your Sassicaia Investments
Sassicaia is a great investment for beginners and experienced wine collectors alike. Because these wines drink well in their youth, you don’t necessarily have to wait decades for them to mature. They rarely go through an awkward phase or taste too tannic. Still, if you love the taste of mature wine and want to enjoy these wines at their best, keep younger wines in storage for at least a decade or two. Some of the best older vintages, like the 1985, may still gain complexity in coming years, so it may be worth keeping them in storage for a bit longer as well.
If you want to make the highest profit possible, it’s a good idea to consult a Sassicaia vintage guide to find the highest-rated years.
For collectors who plan on selling their wine collections on the secondary market, Sassicaia usually increases in price slowly and steadily each year. However, when a vintage proves to be especially high in quality or ages particularly well, the price may skyrocket. For example, the 1985 vintage sells for an average of $2,476 per bottle, making it one of the most expensive Sassicaia vintages of all time. The average price of all Sassicaia vintages is $244 per bottle (this includes non-standard bottle sizes). Clearly, if you want to make the highest profit possible, it’s a good idea to consult a Sassicaia vintage guide to find the highest-rated years. These will likely be worth much more on the secondary market in the future. And if you choose not to resell your bottles, you’ll get to enjoy some of the finest aged Sassicaia in history.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.