Bolgheri – do you know?


Bolgheri is considered a young wine area in Italy. But in reality, its history started some centuries ago… And it was about nobleness, weddings, happy living and a splash of gossip..

Everything started in the 17th century when della Gherardesca counts gave a new impulse and energy to the economic development of the area, to the point that it became one of the most fertile and productive of the entire coast. Two large vineyards had already been planted by the end of the 17th century, one at San Guido and the other at Belvedere.

Bolgheri_the castle***

In the mid-18th century it was Count Cammillo Pandolfo della Gherardesca, a renowned expert on wine, who gave new impetus to the production of wine at Bolgheri. He charged Clemente Moratti with the job of overseeing and administering his estates: an overseer of superior talents who was able to make the properties of the count prosper. At Bolgheri Moratti constructed large fermenting cellars and planted vineyards around the town of Castagneto Carducci.


The son of Count Cammillo, Guido Alberto della Gherardesca, was another major protagonist of the story of the wine of Bolgheri. In 1833 he became “the principal steward and cellar master” of Grand Duke Leopoldo II Hapsburg of Tuscany and, thanks precisely to this office and assignment, he became aware not only of the superiority of French wine but also of the superior organization of their producers. He charged Giuseppe Mazzanti with the responsibility for wine at his properties, a decision which gave new impulse to the estate holdings at Bolgheri, at Castiglioncello, and at Castagneto.


The great noble family of Della Gherardesca linked with 2 other noble families that helped increasing the fame of the Bolgheri’s wines. Clarice Gherardesca married Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, originally from Piedmont, while her sister Carlotta married Nicolò Antinori. The two noble women brought a dowry of more than 4000 hectares of land! The division created two tenutas which approach each other as two L reversed. “Tenuta San Guido” and “Guado al Tasso” were born.


The Antinori marquises, with their Rosé of Bolgheri”, a production based on grapes from the vineyards of their “Belvedere” estate which has continued to this day with the rosé currently called “Scalabrone”, a Bolgheri DOC Rosato. The production was amply advertised from 1970 to the mid-1980’s: large billboards on the old Aurelia highway announced to drivers passing through that “Bolgheri Rosé is produced here”.


Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta began to bottle and distribute his “Sassicaia” starting with the 1968 vintage. The story of Sassicaia has its own particular history, in its initial phase one totally detached from the rest of Bolgheri and its wines. Sassicaia originated as a personal research effort on the part of Marquis Mario Incisa, who aimed, in a zone where only rough and rustic wines were produced, to recreate a style which resembled the wines of Bordeaux which he knew and loved. In 1944 he obtained cuttings of Cabernet from the Marquis Salviati family of Migliarino in the province of Pisa which he then planted at Castiglioncello, an area protected from the influence of the nearby sea. An influence which was blamed for the lack of success in the local wines previously produced at the site. Production techniques followed the French model as well, with a long aging in small oak barrels.


Sassicaia remained a wine sole for family consumption and for a few intimate friend until the 1970’s. It was his brother-in-law, Nicolò Antinori, who accepted the proposal to market the Incisa della Rocchetta wines and introduced their head winemaker, Giacomo Tachis, who was to become one of the world’s most famous oenologists, to Mario Incisa. In 1972 the Sassicaia of the 1968 vintage, with what was to become its definitive label, that which we know and recognize today, was born. In 1974 Mario Incisa requested an opinion on his wine from Luigi Veronelli, Italy’s principal wine critic, and it was immediately love at first sight. Veronelli began to communicate to the Italian market his passion for the wine and, at the same time, the first triumphant international successes began to arrive. From the blind tasting of the English magazine “Decanter” (at the end of the 1970’s), which saw Sassicaia rout an army of famed and well trained competitors to the success of the 1985 vintage, which placed first against the Médoc’s finest of the same vintage, it was a series of victories and prizes, one after another, which made this wine an oenological legend in its own time.


In 1983 a first set of production rules for the appellation was approved in order to codify and protect the Bolgheri production zone.

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Post Author: Paola Pavan

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