“Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.” – Plato

At a time when members and their families are filling baskets with glorious Easter eggs and planning treasure hunts for children and grandchildren, I can’t help but hope that my Easter Bunny has considered my diet and decided against the chocolate and gone for a more bespoke treasure hunt and left me bottles of fine, aged or rare wine hidden around the house. A girl can dream right!

If that has not happened for you then there is always an option to come along and join in with the Cellars Aged & Rare dinner on the 10th of April where they will be releasing some treasures from the LTS collection. Those dining will be treated to a very special 2011 Sassicaia from Tenuta San Guido. If there was any wine that could hold up to Plato’s belief that wine is granted by the gods to man, it would be Sassicaia.

The climate trend in 2011 was truly exceptional for Bolgheri. It can be considered one of the best vintages since the year 2000.

Sassicaia was a ground-breaking wine when the 1968 vintage came out, it was the first barrique aged wine of Italy, the first great Italian cabernet and the first Italian wine in 1985 to be awarded 100 points by Robert Parker.

The story behind this super Tuscan from Tenuta San Guido themselves, is in the 1920s the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta dreamt of creating a ‘thoroughbred’ wine and for him, as for all the aristocracy of the time, the ideal was Bordeaux. This is how he described it in a letter to the esteemed wine critic, Luigi Veronelli dated 11 June 1974:

“…the origins of my experiment date back to the years between 1921 and 1925 when, as a student in Pisa and often a guest of the Salviati Dukes in Migliarino, I drank a wine produced from one of their vineyards…which had the same unmistakable “bouquet” as an aged Bordeaux….”

In the 1940s, having settled with his wife Clarice on the Tenuta San Guido on the Tyrrhenian coast, he experimented with several French grape varieties (whose cuttings he had recovered from the estate of the Dukes Salviati in Migliarino) and concluded that the Cabernet had “the bouquet I was looking for.”

A wine made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon was a fundamental change to the Tuscan and Piedmont tradition of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, respectively. The innovative decision to plant this variety at Tenuta San Guido was partly due to the similarity Mario Incisa had noted between Tuscan terrain and that of graves in Bordeaux.

‘Graves’, or ‘gravel’ in French refers to the rocky terrain which distinguishes the Bordeaux area; similarly, the gravely vineyard sites in Tuscany impart the same characteristics on Sassicaia, “stonyground”, as its cherished French brother.

The Marchese’s fi rst vintages were not warmly received. Critics accustomed to light, local wines were not encouraging; it was not taken into consideration that wines made from the more complex Cabernet Sauvignon grape would need more time to mature and develop.

And thus from 1948 to 1967, Sassicaia remained a strictly private affair, only to be consumed at Tenuta San Guido.

Each year, a few cases were stored to age in the Castiglioncello di Bolgheri cellar. The Marchese soon realized that by ageing the wine it improved considerably.

Friends and relatives now urged Mario Incisa to experiment further with his project and perfect his revolutionary winemaking style. It was not until 1968 that Sassicaia was first commercially released – the welcome was worthy of a Bordeaux Premier Cru.

We are very privileged as a club to have the only ageing cellar in Brisbane. Thanks to the foresight of members and the Wine Committee from preceding decades to plan and buy some of the world’s greatest wines and treasures and have them kept in perfect conditions as they age gracefully.

For those wine lovers amongst us, the cellars LTS tastings are an absolute must and a rare opportunity to try these wines as we wake them up and enjoy them with fellow members. If you enjoy having your fi ne wine accompanied by fi ne food then book a table with friends at the Cellars bi-monthly Aged & Rare Dinner to experience some truly memorable evenings. I hope to see you there.