"It is for us a great satisfaction to be part of the PFV. It acknowledges our way of thinking and our approach to the wine world. PFV guarantees for the quality and the tradition which have to be passed on to the future generations".
- Nicoló Incisa della Rocchetta -
"The bouquet I was looking for"
The area around Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast, has belonged to the Counts della Gherardesca for more than 1200 years. Clarice della Gherardesca married Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta in 1930. His family of Piedmontese origin lived in Rocchetta since the twelve hundreds, where it produced wines and was well-known for modern agriculture. As a young agricultural student in Pisa during the 1920's, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta dreamt of creating a "noble” wine. Like most Italian aristocracy at the time, his taste in wine ran strongly to fine Bordeaux.
He planted the first French varieties in his estate in Rocchetta, but during the Second World War the couple moved to Bolgheri, where he continued experimenting with several French grape varieties and concluded that with Cabernet he found "the bouquet I was looking for”.
A wine that had Cabernet Sauvignon as its primary component represented a radical shift from the traditional Tuscan and Piedmontese varietals of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. No one had ever considered making a wine crafted along Bordeaux lines on Italian soil, least of all in a region not even viticulturally established.
But Bolgheri's location not far from the sea was similar to Graves in Bordeaux. Furthermore, "Graves" means "gravel" in French, typical for the soil at Tenuta San Guido that also gave Sassicaia its name, meaning "stony ground" in Tuscan dialect.
Mario Incisa discovered that as the years went by, the wine greatly improved. As it is often the case with wines of great pedigree, those characteristics originally considered defects turned into virtues over time. Soon, friends and relatives were urging him to pursue his passion and to perfect his revolutionary style of winemaking.
In 1965 he planted two more vineyards comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The "Sassicaia" vineyard, situated approximately 800 feet lower than the original Cabernet vineyard, and "Aianova”, slightly more elevated and thus more exposed to the weather. Eventually, all the wines produced at the estate came to be known by the name of Sassicaia. The 1968 vintage was the first one to be offered on the open market.
More recently, two new wines have being produced at Tenuta San Guido. Guidalberto, since 2000 (60% cabernet and 40% merlot) and Le Difese, since 2002 (70% cabernet and 30% sangiovese).
Among the 75 hectares (185 acres) planted in the DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia approximately 85% are Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The wine-growing areas have been handled in small plots bordering scrublands, forests of old trees, olives and crops, in the total respect of the original setting, being careful to preserve the nature.
In the past "Sassicaia” was considered as a rocky land not absolutely good for farming. The Marchese Mario Incisa realized the potential of this kind of soil. It's very complex, similar in shape to the Graves in Bordeaux, rich of clay and skeletons with an high fluvial ancient accumulation.
Due to the vigorous soil and the high presence of minerals letting the plants growing lush and fast, a strong thinning and selection are needed in the vineyard. The spur cordon supported by wooden poles is used as training method.
The mitigating influence of the Mediterranean Sea prevents drastic temperature variations.
Thanks to the microclimate of the Bolgheri amphitheatre of hills, harvesting normally takes place very early towards the end of August. The picking is totally made by hand to ensure that the faulty fruits are removed. The grapes are loaded into little boxes and carried to the winery; once there, they are put on a sorting table to keep only the healthiest berries.
The Sassicaia ageing cellar is quite recent, it has been completed around 2008; about 1400 barrels are stored here.
- Sassicaia is aged in French oak barriques (one third new) coming from different tonnelleries for 24 months. The wine is refined for six months in bottles before release.
- Guidalberto is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barriques and refined for three months in bottle before release.
- Le Difese is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barriques and refined for three months in bottle before release.
For more information, please visit Sassicaia's web site: www.sassicaia.com