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Spotlight On: Sassicaia 1998

John Siudut
Posted: July 19, 2007

The 1995 vintage ushered in seven straight years of Sassicaia rated in the outstanding to classic range on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. The vintages peak in quality with the 1998, which has the highest score since the 1988 vintage. Though the 1998 vintage was less consistent overall in Tuscany than the golden 1997 vintage, it was actually better in Bolgheri, where Sassicaia is located. The 1998 Sassicaia (95, release price $160, current auction price $152), however, receives less attention than the 1997 Sassicaia (93, $135, $248) at auctions.

The 1997 Sassicaia price is rising in a breakout trend that is similar to the heralded vintages of 1985 (97, $48, $1,736), 1988 (98, $55, $327) and 1990 (92, $55, $463). While trading in the $150-$200 range from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2005, the 1997 had a few instances where the auction price vaulted over the psychological barrier of $200.

After a recent low of $164 in the third quarter of 2004, prices have been steadily climbing toward $250 on solid volume; the 1997 even had five sales beyond that mark within the first half of this year alone. The top sale was a six-pack that sold in February for $1,793, or $299 a bottle, at Hart Davis Hart.

Meanwhile, the 1998 has flown a bit under the radar. Although the volume sold has been relatively steady, the majority of prices remain within the $120-$160 band. This represents an excellent buying opportunity for the collector: a better wine at almost half the price of the 1997.

The next opportunity to bid on the 1998 will be at Bonhams & Butterfields on Friday, July 27. Their catalogue features one mixed lot (#4075) of Italian wines that includes two bottles of the 1998 Sassicaia, three bottles of Antinori Solaia 1997 and one bottle of Antinori Solaia 1995. The lot is undervalued at the auction house's estimate of $850-1,100, according to the Wine Spectator Auction database, which reveals that the lot should actually be valued at over $1,400--a potential steal.

This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. This chart plots the prices of Sassicaia 1997 and 1998 sold at auctions from 2004 to the present.

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