The Antinori Guado al Tasso estate lies within the Bolgheri DOC in upper Maremma along the Tuscan coast.  Although the estate can trace its roots to the mid 1930’s, serious wine-making didn’t begin until the 1990s.

What ultimately became the estate was inherited by Piero Antinori’s Mother, Carlotta Antinori and her sister who was married to Mario Incisa Della Rocchetta.  Piero received the Guado al Tasso estate while his Aunt received what would become Tenuta San Guido.  Not a bad couple of gifts!

Vines on Antinori Estate

~ The vineyards are low lying, just a few hundred feet above sea level ~

The property covers 320 hectares with vineyards planted on a flat plain, just a few hundred feet above sea level.  The topography forms a natural amphitheater as the vineyards are encircled by rolling hills on three sides.  The Mediterranean sea sits to the West.  Constant breezes from the sea provide a cooling influence while also fending off various forms of potential vine diseases.

The mineral base in the soil is interesting here. Fossilized sea matter is found throughout Maremma and Guado al Tasso is no exception. As a result, the wines from the estate display a powdery nature to their tannic structure.  Small gravel dominates the top layer of the vineyards while silt and clay reside below.

Antinori Dirt

~ In this image you can get a sense of the texture to the vineyard soils at Guado al Tasso ~

What started with a single wine in production has now been expanded to six.  Today I’m discussing the newest wine from the estate, Cont’ Ugo and the release of the 2018.

2018 was an odd year in Tuscany but in Maremma, where the weather was cooler on average, the vintage retained a bit more normalcy.  The growing season will be remembered for frequent rain showers; particularly during winter and spring. These provided much needed groundwater reserves, especially after the hot, drought conditions of 2017.  As the weather warmed significantly inland, the coast remained cooler and the day-night temperature swings proved ideal for the early ripening Merlot grapes.

The 2018 Antinori Con’t Ugo is 100% Merlot.  Deep purple in color, the nose of the wine exudes black fruits, toasted spice and hints of Maremma herb.  On the palate, the wine is ripe, round and fruity with juicy black fruits dominating the profile at the moment.  As the wine opens, hints of herb appear.  Fleshy and very plush, this appears to be devoid of significant tannin, though they do appear toward the end and are laced with powdery mineral.  Vinified in a combination of stainless steel and barrique, the lots are then blended and aged for 12 months in barrique and 6 months in bottle before release.

This wine is well made, broadly appealing and easily drinkable.  To sum up, my wife, who poses a keen palate in terms of a wine’s quality but doesn’t necessarily identify specific aspects or traits, said to me upon her first few sips:  “This is really nice, is it from Napa?”   91 points.  Around $45.   Find this wine.

Cont'Ugo Merlot

~ The 2018 Cont’ Ugo Merlot is a forward, fruity Merlot ~

I’m noticing that the 2019 is becoming available on pre-release. With the price increasing nearer to $60, this is an easy pass at that level.


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