The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Tenuta San Guido

Posted on | March 9, 2015 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiIt’s a treat whenever you have the opportunity to taste one of Italy’s great wines, but when you have the opportunity to taste two great wines side by side, it becomes a special occasion. And if both of those wines have been aged to perfection and are from the same vintage, allowing you to compare and contrasts styles at optimal drinking age? Well, that is what makes memories that last a very long time.

Sassicaia is the original Super Tuscan, but Ornellaia originated shortly thereafter. These two Bolgheri wines throw punches year after year (very friendly punches), trading places atop the mountain in the eyes of collectors. While many simply perceive them as two similar Bordeaux-style blends from the Tuscan coast, they could not be more different. Last week I enjoyed the ‘98s from both of these iconic estates and was blown away. We were so thrilled that my CFO went looking for more and found about two cases of each that will arrive this summer. I sincerely hope you make some of it yours.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia 1998 $329

Ornellaia is historically the heftier and more brooding of the two wines. In addition to Cab Sauv and Merlot, Ornellaia has a dollop of Petit Verdot that acts like an ink, adding texture and color. I was struck by how youthful the wine seemed; at 17 years it was still in the early stages of its drinking window. With an herbaceous nose and tannins still present, this ’98 Ornellaia will only get better. Drink now and for the 10-15 years.

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 1998 $379

Sassicaia is often the more elegant of the two selections. While you can detect the warm sun of 1998 in the wine’s style, this ’98 struts across your palate rather that barges in. A blend of Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, Sassicaia has a personality all its own and a nose so unique that it always leaves many of us sniffing a glass and proclaiming “Ah, now that’s Sassicaia!” There was a little sediment present but this wine was still dark as night. Drink now and for the next decade.

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