Guado Al Tasso
By Jordan Carrier
It’s important to remember how bizarre it was that Sassicaia actually worked. It was grown in Bolgheri, a Tuscan backwater that was, in the 1970s, known only for cheap Rose wines that Italians used primarily for tolerating their extended families at picnics. It was built with alien French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, both of which were well suited to the terroir but highly controversial in such a traditionalist viticultural region. Most offensively to the skeptical rural Tuscans, Sassicaia sold for a premium price, higher than many of the most revered Chianti Classicos, a move that seemed arrogant in a society where you were supposed to know your place. When the wine first came to market, it was largely laughed at.
Well, nothing eases skepticism like success, and after Sassicaia claimed first place in the 1978 Decanter magazine (in a blind tasting of Bordeaux, no less) the gold rush began. Traditional Tuscan houses – many of whom had mocked Sassicaia at first – poured in to Bolgheri to buy up vineyards and make Cabernet. Well, all except for one.
The Antinori family, one of Chianti’s oldest houses, already owned vineyards in Bolgheri. The elderly Nicolo Antinori held a large chunk of land (where he, naturally, made cheap Rose) close to Sassicaia, which he split between his two sons. Black sheep Lodovico Antinori, persuaded to return home from his worldwide surfing sabbatical by this bequest, turned his chunk into Ornellaia, while older brother Piero Antinori, the family’s chief winemaker who had enjoyed his own recent success with Tignanello, created – you guessed it - Guado Al Tasso.
Guado has been one of my favourites since I started doing this. It drinks at or above the level of Sassicaia and Ornellaia (indeed it’s often rated higher than those wines) but sells for half of those prices. Classic Cab notes of cassis with Tuscan herbs build towards a ripe, robust frame (think 2009 Left Bank) with depth, pent up energy, and a killer grip at the end. At November’s Antinori tasting, this 2013 Guado was the clear favourite, besting the famous 2013 Tignanello* and even the flagship 2011 Solaia. I know many of you were waiting for it to arrive, I’m sorry it took so long!
Antinori Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore 2013. 97 points James Suckling, 96 points Robert Parker, 12 wooden 6-packs available, $95.99 +tax
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, with a 100% chance of awesomeness.
*Tantrums work, FYI. I screamed like a toddler when I sold out of Tignanello 2013 and the agent gave me some more cases. If I initially had to tell you no (and sorry again for that), or if you tried it already and simply must have more, I can do that now.