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Appreciation on Location, Part 1: A Vertical Tasting

James Suckling

Lesson time 15:04 min

Soil and climate play an essential role in the winemaking process. James teaches you how to look for subtleties between vintages with a vertical tasting of Tignanello.

James Suckling
Teaches Wine Appreciation
Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.
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We're now going to taste a small range of Tignanello. This would be called a vertical tasting, because it's various vintages from the same winery. A horizontal tasting is the same year but different wineries or vineyards. So when you're doing a tasting like this, what do you want students to come away with? - So this is an occasion, on the range of 35 years, to understand across the vintages, what is the essence of that piece of vineyards. The soil is always the same. Across 35 years, there might be some differences in the planting, in the techniques, or the picking. But the variable is the climate. Every year it's different. 2017 was very warm. 2014 was very cool. So you are trying to interpret well and make sure that everything is equilibrated and well balanced. - Well, aren't you worried about climate change? - We always worry. But let's say that this is one of the variables that you can't really switch and change. What we can do in the vineyard is make sure that you're always ready at the beginning of the season to interpret world weather. So it's basically about equilibrium, you know, when you have to find the perfect equilibrium. And you're trying to help nature. If it's wetter year, you take some bunches off to make sure that the bunches that remain on the vine get to perfect maturation. You might help it a bit with taking the weeds out of the vineyard, if there is not enough water. So you can help, all to get a good balance that has to reflect at the end in the wine. [MUSIC PLAYING] - When I do a vertical tasting I always like to go left to right, because then you can see the evolution, the history of the winery, besides seeing the quality of each vintage. - And also because the older wines can be more delicate, while the younger ones are stronger and more babyish. So your palate gets accustomed. - Exactly. - So the oldest one is 1983, which was-- a bit of rain we had there, in September. So a fresher wine, it has always been. I must say that it's showing nice. - I've had a few bottles of this in my life. And this is one of the best I've had. But of course, it's here from the cantina, from your cellar. It's never moved. You made the wine, put it in a bottle, and here it is. Now you're taking it out after all these years. - Yes. - But a great, great wine, and showing that special time in the history of Italian wines when there was a beginning of this change in how they were making wines, a move to a cleaner, more modern style. - In the '70s, beginning of the '80s, a lot of work was done in the cellar-- microbiological, fermentation, controlling malolactics, all these aspects that were typical of-- of cellar. In the '90s, there was more concentration starting, more concentration in the vineyard. Viticulture-wise, it takes much longer, because you have to plant. You have to think how you can plant different, how you can prune. And it takes a long time before a vine is planted an...

Discover the story in every bottle

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his wine tasting MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great class loved the in-depth details James goes into about the wine and how to really enjoy it.

He makes it simple and therefore interesting to learn more about wine. He wish there could have been more focusing on "virtual tasting", where the students buy the same kind of wine as him, and taste the wine together, where he learns how to taste og describe the flavors:)

James Suckling did a great job transferring his joy and passion for wine to his viewers. Well done.

Pretty good. It makes you want to drink more wine and share it with people.


Kirsten E.

I'm curious to know if a blind tasting was done of the 4 vintages, can the taster recognize it is the same wine or does the year make it vastly different?

Maria Rosa

I am not an expert, for me, this class, is only a pleasure to know. What I loved is her vision about what is coming ahead; keeping care of environment, water management for benefit of the harvest , the environment and Earth. I think Europeans view is more vanguardist, they care about an elegant and tasteful wine but are more into the future of artisanal expression and respect.

Christina F.

Albiera speaks with such passion and grace about the wine and work. It's enchanting. The respect shown toward the sacredness of the land, history and process, just beautiful. Lovely session.

Damien R.

Very fascinating to hear directly from the winemaker how the family's winemaking style has evolved over the years ... predicting market preferences (very well) and dealing with foreseeable challenges in the vineyard/cellar. Keen to see how that continues to evolve in the coming generation.

Byanjana T.

Like a fellow student mentioned, is it possible to have an option to disable the notification that comes up if you press pause (as in to prevent it from popping up at all)? Having to press hide each time is a little inconvenient and distracts from the flow of the lesson

Angela D.

I love that he chose a female grape farmer! Every year is indeed very different...3 years ago my vines were so laden with fruit and the leaves were healthy...last year the leaves were attacked and eaten and I had hardly any fruit this year some but recovering and a very rainy early summer without much sun affected, I loved this lesson!!! Wanted more and I want to see her vineyard up close!

Lucy S.

I often want to pause the video when reading something shown as text (menu's, information, descriptions). But the video brings up 'You're watching' and 'Up next' all over the screen blocking the view. Please change these on all your videos.. very frustrating

A fellow student

I have finished my Masterclass with James Suckling and I can not download the pdf of some lessons. Could you please help me? Thank you.

Omar D.

That view in the background is absolutely stunning. What a beautiful place!

Federico G.

Tignanello is extraordinary wine and just 125 bucks a bottle. great value for money.