Two trends in the fine wine market have been widely documented in recent years. The first has been the rise of the second wines of the leading Grand Cru estates of Bordeaux. Harvested from the same vineyards as the first wines, the seconds are composed of plots and grapes that did not quite make it into the grand cuvee. They offer the quality and brand of the first wine, yet at a fraction of the price, as a result they have seen steep capital appreciation.
The second trend has been the rise of wines outside Bordeaux, particularly amongst the Super Tuscans, made on the coast of Tuscany which replicate the leading chateaux of Bordeaux, often matching their quality. These have seen a large elevation in global acclaim and resultantly, price. The world famous Super Tuscan estates make second wines, as in Bordeaux, however, they have not, as yet, entered the mainstream of investable wines and remain undervalued and wonderfully priced.
At our last monthly tasting we decided to explore these second wines blind and the results were interesting. The stand out wine of the evening in terms of price versus quality ratio was Guidalberto, the second wine of Sassicaia, significantly outshining the more expensive second wine of Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove 2008. Sassicaia and Guidalberto are from the estate of Tenuta San Guido, which cultivates its spectacular fruit from three plots distributed amongst the coastal town of Bolgheri.
Guidalberto, introduced in 2000, is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, it is the quintessential Bordeaux blend, with a touch of Tuscan warmth. It is noteworthy that the Merlot plot is not used in their first wine. The varieties are blended and matured separately in French and American Oak and the estate stringently focuses on low yields and the highest quality. Tasted blind we priced the Guidalberto 2009 at £40-45 a bottle, it immediately stood out; intense violet colour, a pronounced fresh nose, displaying obvious cassis and dark fruits, enveloping with eucalyptus, vanilla, a delightful earthiness with subtle truffles and roses. The palate is extremely succulent with ripe tannin, balanced by acidity and poised, subtle warmth. The finish spoke of Bordeaux fruits, hitherto with a long white chocolate, black olive finish. We do not hesitate in giving this wine 93 points.
The 2009 is similar in style to the Sassicaia 2009, which is unusually rich, opulent and approachable young; a wine scored 94 points by Parker’s Wine Advocate. They scored the Guidalberto 2009 92+, its highest score to date, outscoring many vintages of Sassicaia. Interestingly the Guidalberto 2006 which scored 92 points is already £40 a bottle. We postulate therefore that the 2009 is a no brainer; it will age gracefully for ten years, but offers plenty of reason to be opened now, considering price versus quality (£260 a full case) it is one of the best wines we have tasted.
The 2009 Guidalberto flows across the palate with layers of radiant red fruit. This is another striking, supple Guidalberto loaded with personality. Stylistically it is quite close to the 2007, but with perhaps a touch less body but equally silky, polished tannins. Freshly cut roses, spices and a burst of pure red berries add nuance on the finish. Guidalberto is no longer the stunning value it once was, but it is quite gorgeous in this vintage just the same. This is easily one of the best vintages I can recall tasting. Guidalberto is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019. Robert Parker 92+ points