Sassicaia – Contemporary Italian Renaissance

  • Anthony Maxwell, Liv-ex Director

  • 12 Mar 2019 | News & Views

The February release of Sassicaia 2016 stimulated activity for Italian wines. Italy has been gaining momentum over the past year; in 2018, its trade share hit a record high, moving from 6.4% in 2017 to 8.1%. Historically, Sassicaia has accounted for the majority of Italian trade due to a combination of high value and volume, similar characteristics to Bordeaux. With the broadening of the market, the Super Tuscan lost trade share within the region, falling from 70% in 2010 to 26% in 2018. Last year, Sassicaia’s trade was dominated by the most recent vintage release—the 2015.

With its February release, the 2016 immediately stole the spotlight. Released in the U.K. at £1,270 per 12x75 and driven by a 100-point score from The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner, the wine skyrocketed. Its current Market Price of £2,160 positions it well above the last 10 vintages available in the market. 

Could the 2016, “a wine of soaring achievement,” breathe new life into Sassicaia and Italy as a whole? Larner compared it to “the epic 1985 vintage that set the ultimate benchmark for vino Italiano.” The 1985 “catapulted an entire nation to enological superstardom” when Robert Parker awarded it 100 points, admitting he often mistook it for Mouton Rothschild 1986. Tenuta San Guido mastered the “Bordeaux blend” in Italy. According to critics, the 1985 is set to reach full maturity in the next 10 years; it is now available at £29,000 per 12x75.

The Sassicaia index, which tracks the price performance of the last 10 vintages available in the market, has outperformed the other Super Tuscans—Masseto, Ornellaia, Solaia and Tignanello over the past year, although only with a small gain of 3.3%. Over the same period, the broader Italy 100 has risen by 2.3%, while the Bordeaux 500 index has run flat.

Despite Sassicaia’s relative tranquillity, individual wines have seen more extreme price action. The 2009 (WA 96) is currently at its peak commanding a Market Price of £1,730 per 12x75, up 16% in the past year. Similarly, the 2010 is at its highest price point with an increase of 21%. Sassicaia vintages pre-Robert Parker’s retirement have shown strong correlation to age, rising as the wines evolve in bottle.

With the changing face of wine criticism, prices of recent vintages have been score-led. The 2016 is now available at a 71% premium to its release price, following Larner’s appraisal. Should other critics concur with Larner, its price could move yet further. 

There is little doubt—Italy is in the spotlight. With its international brand strength, critical acclaim and volume appeal, Sassicaia would seem to be the Michelangelo of this modern Italian Renaissance.

Readers should take note that the views of this author represent those of a company with an interest in the wine trade. Liv-ex operates the global marketplace for fine wine. It offers trading, data and settlement services to professional buyers and sellers of fine wine. Private collectors can view Liv-ex prices and value their portfolios using Cellar Watch and find regular market analysis on the blog. The opinions of Liv-ex are their own and do not represent those of Robert Parker Wine Advocate or Wine Journal. Liv-ex contributes articles to Wine Journal that we feel are of market relevance to readers, but we do not specifically endorse this company.

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