2014 Cabernet Sauvignon by Tenuta San Guido ‘Guidalberto’ - 538 Wine Notes

This wine is actually 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. I realize it is strange including these French varietals in an Italian grape theme. Yet, I stand behind it. These varietals have gain a large degree of ‘Italian’ since they broke all the rules and created the Super Tuscan movement. For those of you who do not know, Super Tuscan is what we call a wine from Tuscany that doesn’t use the indigenous Tuscan grapes but a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc, Syrah and the local Sangiovese. When these were first on the scene in the 70’s the Italian government regulators didn’t know how to classify them. They certainly were nothing like a Chianti! The term IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica, was created not until 1992, to give these creative winemakers a solid classification of quality without creating a new appellation. (Fun Fact:  The first and most most famous super Tuscan wine is Sassicaia from Tenuta San Guido, you have the second label, Guialberto, in front of you now.)

IGT Toscana is the normal classification for a Super Tuscan. Now there are also IGT from other regions that use the non-indigenous grapes. While on the subject, a word about Bolgheri. Bolgheri is a commune in Tuscany that is home to the major super Tuscsans such as Sassiaia, Ornellaia, Ca’Marcanda and Guado al Tasso by Antinori. These wines were the most expensive in Italy and winning tastings against the First Growths of Bordeaux. Yet they had the humblest classification, Vino di Tavola, table wine. The politician slowly caught on, first IGT Toscana in 1992, then finally DOC Bolgheri in 1995. But Bolgheri has limited borders. Tignanello is still an IGT because they are in the heart of the Chianti region.

Now in the glass in front of you. ‘Guidalberto’ is the name Tenuta San Guido gave to their Super Tuscan. They also produce the big brother, Sassicaia as I mentioned earlier.  Juicy red and brambly black fruits burst from the glass in the finessed ’14 Guidalberto that frames its fruits with fresh-cut herbs, kisses of mocha and spice, freshly tilled earth, and crushed river rocks. This is a very silky Guidalberto, and it glides across your palate with a sophisticated mouth-feel, leaving plenty of fine-grained tannins in its wake as it builds to a lingering, nuanced crescendo. Guidalberto offers richness and density that’s balanced by vigor, precision and freshness; this wine ferments in temperature-controlled stainless steel, followed by aging for fifteen months in French barrels and three months in bottle before release. While this Guidalberto is approachable early, it definitely has the structure to age very, very nicely.

aris hovsepian