Ever since 1971, when Sassicaia
became the first ever ‘Super Tuscan,’ this impressive red wine has not only grown in reputation and price, but it has put Italian wines on the map.
The wine broke all of Italy’s outdated rules and regulations during the 1970s and 80s, giving it ‘rebel status’ within the wine industry. Sassicaia is now one of Italy’s most iconic and beloved wines.
Known for its unusually rocky soil (“sassi” is Italian for rocks or stones), Sassicaia predominantly uses the cabernet sauvignon grape, which was previously incredibly rare, as most Italian reds used the sangiovese grape instead. The best Bordeaux wines use high percentages of cabernet sauvignon, so it is clear that the Sassicaia producers were trying to emulate their neighbour’s wines.
In 1978 Sassicaia won a worldwide wine tasting competition, beating 33 other cabernets. The panel included Clive Coates and Serena Sutcliffe and cemented Sassicaia’s position on the world stage as a force to be reckoned with.
Ornellaia is another of Italy’s top class wines.
A Salmanazar (9l bottle) of Ornellaia 2005 was sold in 2007 at auction for $28,000. More recently, Ornellaia wines have been featured among the world’s greatest wines at auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. This month six double-magnums spanning 1997 to 2002 will be presented at a Sotheby’s auction with estimates of $5,000.
Ornellaia grapes are hand-harvested and chosen by hand from the sorting table. The grapes are aged in ‘barriques’ for 12-18 months.
Masseto (derived from the Italian word “massi”, which means large rocks, due to the big lumps of clay that are present in the soil) officially debuted in 1987. In 2007 a bottle of 1987 Masseto was valued at £150.
Currently this vintage is valued at £350. Its unique character and a tiny output of 30,000 bottles a year makes this Italian wine incredibly sought-after.
Produced by the Antinori wine company, which can trace its history back to 1385, Tignanello is their flagship wine. The vineyard sits high above sea-level and is 85 per cent sangiovese.
The 2005 vintage has an average bottle price of £67.
Italian Wine: Eye on the Market
Asian markets currently account for a third of the total output of Masseto wine, but the wine growers are keen not to increase their volumes and risk decreasing the quality.
Jack Hibberd, head of Data and Statistics at Liv-ex, has pointed out the value offered by Tuscan wines: “Super Tuscans have all performed relatively strongly in the past year, especially compared to Bordeaux.”