The vineyards of Guado al Tasso’s estate sprawl across a beautiful plain encircled by “the Bolgheri Amphitheater,” rolling hillsides that face the Tyrrhenian Sea. The hillsides cupping the vineyards create a unique microclimate that encourages perfect ripening and the development of pronounced aromas. This is always a big, rich, and impeccably polished wine with powerful fruit and tannins.
There just aren't many on the level of Piero Antinori. Process this for a moment: He represents the 25th generation in an unbroken string of vintners, beginning in 1385. 26 generations! His family started accumulating knowledge about vineyard and cellar practices when Chaucer was working on The Canterbury Tales. It's difficult to comprehend. His lifetime experience cannot be overstated as he has literally been involved with wine his entire life. In fact, one of his first memories is of German soldiers shooting barrels in his family's cellars as Europe descended into chaos at the end of WWII. He has a truly encyclopedic knowledge of what it means to be a winemaker, and he understands that he is a vital link from his family's past to its future as the Antinori footprint expands across the globe.
Renzo Cotarella, managing director of Marchesi Antinori tells me that the 2018 vintage showed very different results in the inland and hilly Chianti Classico appellation compared to the flat, sea-facing Bolgheri appellation. This season saw some rain right before harvest. That extra humidity rolled right off the Chianti Classico hills and disappeared without effect, but it stuck around longer in the thicker, flatter soils of Guado al Tasso. For this reason, one of the estate's top wines, the Cabernet Franc-based Matarocchio, was not produced in 2018 for fear that the fruit would not offer the concentration required of a wine of that important stature. The best of that fruit was used in this wine instead. For that reason, the 2018 Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso sees a little more Cabernet Franc (clocking in at about 22% of the blend) and less Merlot, with the rest being Cabernet Sauvignon, of course, (at about 60%). To be honest, the percentage of Cabernet Franc has been deliberately creeping up over the years to render a more focused and sharper bouquet. Aromas of dark fruit and freshly milled white pepper replace the more banal cherry-based flavors delivered by the Merlot, and the wine appears more lifted and precise as a result. The Cabernet Sauvignon delivers spice and licorice, and these pretty aromas are likewise given more breathing room, thanks to the counterparts found in the Cabernet Franc. Linearity, sharpness, pencil shavings and dark currant or blackberry—this is the direction Guado al Tasso is taking, and this 2018 vintage opens the door to a new chapter for the wine.
The seamless texture of ripe and polished tannins is very attractive already, and indicates a beautiful future for this young wine. Extremely long.
The 2018 Guado al Tasso is silky, delicate and exceptionally polished. I can’t remember tasting another Guado like it. Medium in body and gracious, the 2018 offers up a compelling mélange of dark fruit, chocolate, cedar, licorice and dried herbs, all in a mid-weight style that is incredibly appealing. The 2018 has just been bottled, so it needs time to bounce back. I can’t wait to taste it with a bit more time in bottle."