Tenuta San Guido released Le Difese starting in 2003. In a nod to tradition(ish), Le Difese actually has Sangiovese (30%) with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon. The Le Difese vines are on limestone, with soils rich in clay and stones. Le Difese goes through fermentation and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. Then it spends 10 months in French oak.
Initially, Le Difese is funk and herbal. It shows restraint, a hallmark of Sassicaia. They have always picked the Cabernet earlier to retain freshness and acid. This avoids the fully ripe flavours of Cabernet which aren’t always flattering. The palate is super Sangiovese with pepper, meaty, strong acid, dry, grippy tannins.
Le Difese is light and cleansing. This marriage of Cabernet and Sangiovese is a happy one. Drink Le Difese now. Give it a good decant first though. I find myself wanting roast lamb with olives with Le Difese.
Tenuta San Guido Le Difese Tuscan IGT 2016 Wine Review
International Wine Report
“The 2016 Le Difese is opens to inviting aromatics of red cherries and wild blueberries along with herbs, spices, hints of violets and dusty nuances all taking shape. On the palate this is medium-bodied, fresh and vibrant with lots of berries and spices, framed in silky tannins. Stays focused and balanced with a lovely finish. A fantastic entry in the wines of this great estate.”
Marchese Mario Incisa Della Rocchetta planted Cabernet in 1948. His dream was for his Tenuta San Guido estate to rival Bordeaux. Surely he couldn’t have dreamt how far the project would go? Initially, it wasn’t well-received, so Cabernet from Tenuta San Guido was the house wine for decades.
The key to the success of this estate was the planting of the Sassicaia (stoney field) vineyard. The low-lying, small stones and terroir were a remarkable parallel to Graves and the Medoc of Bordeaux. A second generation and French oak barriques finished the equation.
Sassicaia is the first Super Tuscan it’s first commercial release came with vintage 1968. In 1978 Decanter awarded the 1972 Sassicaia top rank in their “great claret of the world” tasting.
In true Bordeaux style, Tenuta San Guido offers and second wine: Guidalberto, and a third wine: Le Difese. These two wines are from estate vineyards and benefit from declassified wine and decades of experience.
Located in the commune of Castagneto Carducci in Tuscany. Bolgheri’s Mediterranean climate, paired with its soil types allow the red Bordeaux varieties to excel. A Decanter magazine tasting helped Bolgheri find international renown when a 6-year-old Sassicaia’ Super Tuscan’ was ranked higher than a range of Bordeaux. Red wines may be up to 70% Sangiovese, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 80% Merlot, and other local red varieties, up to 30%.
When most people think of Central Italy, they think of Tuscany. Not surprisingly because Chianti is an ocean of vineyards within the winegrowing region of Central Tuscany. Chianti produces more than 750000 hectolitres of wine each year. Tuscany’s wine history starts somewhere in the 8th-5th Century BCE when it was part of Etruria. Vernaccia from San Gimignano and reds from Montepulciano were known and loved before the Renaissance. The Tuscany we know now started in the 19th Century with Chianti gaining the ascendancy. Brunello di Montalcino debuted in 1888, and the Super Tuscans took shape in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Beyond Tuscany, there are the magical places of Emilia Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo and Umbria. Each area has a unique history and personality that deserve a night of their own. Better still, a few nights in situ.
There are 1000s and 1000s of grapes in Italy. There are sub-alpine cool-climate regions in the North and Sun-baked vineyards in the South. Add to that, volcanoes and many cultures within one Country. You could struggle to find anything uniform about the wines. The best of the best include Tuscan reds from Sangiovese or Cabernet. Nebbiolo from Piedmont, especially Barolo and Barbaresco. The aromatic whites of NE Italy from Garganega, Pinot Grigio, and numerous crazy blends. The volcanic wines of Mt Etna in Sicily. And many more.
The only generalisation I will make is that a lot of Italian wine is undervalued when compared to a similar French style.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.
It is essential to understand it is a name that does not have any legal status. The wine trend started because the Chianti laws stated that you could only use 70% Sangiovese and had to include at least 10% of local white grapes in your blend. It meant that a lot of Chianti was more like Rosato and did not age.
The Super Tuscans were a group of producers who chose to ditch the Chianti laws to use international varieties and/or higher amounts of Sangiovese to make the best wine they could from their terroir. These wines were labelled at Vino da Tavola and were selling for significantly more than the best wines of Chianti.
In the 1990s the laws were changed, and a lot of the Super Tuscan wines could legally use Chianti again. But most of them used the Toscana IGT appellation, which came to be to allow these experimental wines to exist too.
The main grape of Bordeaux’s left bank. Cabernet is late-ripening and full of acid and tannin. The great wines have structure but finessed with beautiful cassis, violets, and it also transmits the flavours of the soil it is grown in really well. Cabernet isn’t a drink now variety; it needs 10 or more years to show its best. But when you get there, WOW! Often blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or in Australia Shiraz to fill out its mid-palate referred to as the ‘Cabernet doughnut’.
Widely cultivated across Italy from Emilia-Romagna to Campania. Sangiovese produces as much wine as Barbera in Italy. Sangiovese has a wide range of clones. Couple this with hugely diverse growing conditions and you get a lot of variety: Rosato (rose), easy-drinking ‘quaffers’, all the way to benchmarks. Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Sangiovese di Romagna and Morellino di Scansano are all top examples.
2016 is one of the best vintages for Bolgherind a Tuscany in recent times. A warm, dry autumn lead into a rainy and cold winter. The vines sprouted early in spring. Summer was hot, but water stress was never a factor. The grapes came in healthy with perfect ripeness. The wines are great with a lot of potential.
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.