The 1998 Bolgheri Sassicaia presents an interesting challenge and counter position. It feels like it is traveling at two speeds. On first nose, you are reminded of its age thanks to oxidized tones of dried spice, cumin, cured meat and bresaola. Despite the wine's clearly evolved state, it also bursts forth with an impressive charge of dark fruit integrity, fullness and freshness. Lingering mineral tones add polished elegance and a sense of delineated grace that is memorable and ultimately very beautiful. Those marine tones appear throughout the texture of this wine like a delicate embroidery. If the wine appears huddled and hunched down on first approach, you find that it suddenly stands tall and glorious after a few quick swirls of the glass. ML
Lovely, subtle yet complex aromas of currants, sage and green olives lead to a full-bodied red with a solid core of fruit and well-integrated tannins. Still very reserved on the finish, but those who are patient should be rewarded. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best after 2005
I just drank this in Zurich today and it is clearly the best Sassicaia since 1988, and it gets better and better in the bottle. It really does remind me of the awesome 1988, which can be better than the legendary 1985. The 1998 shows so many layers of dark fruit, cedar and terra cotta on the nose. It's intense and powerful; stony with sweet tobacco and berry undertones plus currants and sultanas. It's full-bodied with ultra-fine tannins and great depth. It's not completely open yet. Decant two hours in advance before serving.
Seductive and greedy, the welcoming nose shows we are in full stride at this point. These wines are sharing their secrets, highlighting the floral aspects and the character of Sassicaia in a decade that had more challenging vintages than the 2000s. Aromatics still lively and even with tertiary notes we are in no way sacrificing power at nearly 20 years old. Tertiary notes of black truffles and black olives appear, yet they are so deft, so beautiful, we sink into their embrace. I love this. It hovers on the edge of exoticism and excess, and yet every time it pulls back.
Tasted by Jane Anson (at Rome, 27 Oct 2016)
Part of Sassicaia wines tasted: 1968 - 2015
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