Culinary Arts

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.

I enhanced my knowledge of wine, especially how you can relate the flavors of the wine to the region it was grown. I also enjoyed the variety of wines presented from places other than California, which is the wine I'm most familiar with.

I grow grapes so I loved the visit to the vineyard with the lady grape farmer! I have a much better understanding of wine tasting and the lingo:)

I feel inspired to try and host a tasting group with friends or if that doesn't work out, just with my husband. I learned more wine vocabulary and feel more comfortable with relaxing and just experiencing what the taste means to me. I'd like to go back and watch certain lessons again. Thank you.

Great class! Loved learning new terms and a new approach to tasting wines.


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!

Jordan L.

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.

Thomas R.

Oh, she's fantastastic! Very charming but also very clear way to summarize about the vineyards and the winery. I always enjoy this part when visiting places for tastings and tours. It is part of the wine - "history in a bottle". Mrs. Antinori, invite me for a glass os Solaia please!

Alan M.

I have been enjoying the lessons. I plan two drink some of the ones he's spoken about, but I also looked at his website and got the list of the best wines un $30. We are members of a couple wineries, one of them being Buena Vista in Sonoma and he likes a couple of theirs, and tada I bought them.

William J.

These "lessons" are more like a seminar than a class room. This is the 3rd Master Class I have taken and I am enjoying each one. There is a lot to be learned from just listening to experts talk about their field of interest. It is definitely for the casual learner who can pick up on the subtle nuances. People who are looking for a class room type of setting with a black board and exams will be disappointed with the lessons.


It's very helpful hearing the terminology over and over again, that way when I grab a glass of wine, I'll be better able to communicate what I'm tasting, and I'll have a better understanding of the meaning behind the words people use to describe the wine. Excited to grab another glass!

Elizabeth S.

I’m not sure who you think could try a $125 bottle of wine. But that’s not normal. Sorry.