The Marchesi Antinori family are world famous for three wines; Tignanello, Solaia and Guado al Tasso. Guado al Tasso is the prestigious flagship Bordeaux blend wine from Piero Antinori. As such, it forms one third of his trinity of great wines, which have cemented Piero as the best-known name in Italian winemaking. Guado al Tasso unlike Tignanello and Solaia – which are located in Chianti Classico – is the family’s sprawling property located in the heartland of the Super Tuscan coastal region of Bolgheri, a few minutes south of Sassicaia and Ornellaia. As such, it has a wonderful climatic combination, benefiting from the coastal breeze of the Tyrrhenian Sea, vineyard elevation and the interior hills. Guado al Tasso has a remarkable history of high scores, which are on par with Solaia and in great vintages such as 2010 and 2015 has achieved 97 points from the Wine Advocate. Its splendour and brilliance is well known, however, what few know is that it makes a second wine called Antinori Cont‘Ugo.
In 2015, which is already being viewed as potentially one of the greatest in the history of Tuscany, Cont’Ugo has hit a home run, awarded 93 points from Antonio Galloni. Of it he says ‘this is a fabulous wine for the vintage… captures all the radiance and natural intensity of the year. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, spice and floral notes abound’. This is reiterated by 93 points from the Wine Spectator and James Suckling’s 92 points, who incidentally has gone on record saying that Piero ‘for me is the greatest winemaker in Italy, without Piero there would be no history of great winemaking in Italy’. A great vintage, the Antinori pedigree, prime terroir real-estate and winemaking savoir-faire have come together to make an incredible wine priced at £140 per case of six. At £23 a bottle this means it has a Price Over Points ratio of 23, which is exceptional.
The Guado al Tasso estate is located approximately 50 miles to the southwest of the city of Florence near the medieval hamlet of Bolgheri. The property, some 2,500 acres in size, extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the inland hills and includes, in addition to the 300 hectares of vineyards, parcels of wheat, barley, hay, and olive groves along with woods in which a herd of Cinta Senese pigs, a prized local breed, graze. Antinori throw the kitchen sink at Cont’Ugo. They make a selection of the finest grapes, from a 40 hectare plot planted with Merlot on the Guado al Tasso estate. The grapes are handpicked, with selected bunches then then put temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, where it is macerated on its skins and fermented for 20 days. The fermentation levels are controlled in accord with the ripeness levels of the grapes, ensuring aromatic freshness is maintained, along with great structure. Different parcels are aged separately in small oak barrels, where malolactic fermentation takes place in new French oak barrels, one third of which are new. After eight months in barrel, the finest lots are amassed and go back in barrel for a further four months. At the end of this the wine spends a further six months in bottle before commercial release.
In 2015 Guado al Tasso has been awarded 96 points from Antonio Galloni and 97 from the Wine Advocate. The finest Merlot grapes from the Estate went into Cont’Ugo, creating a wine that punches well above its price point! A 100% Merlot wine, from Antinori, deriving from Bolgheri only goes by two names, Masseto and Cont’Ugo, the latter costs less than half the price of a case of six, than the former for a bottle.
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