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Region: Tuscany

Bolgheri DOC

Many recognize the name, Sassicaia, and not without reason. This great red wine’s success (originally a so-called VdT, Vino da Tavola, or table wine) has laid the foundation for Italy’s first DOC to a single winery, namely Bolgheri-Castagneto Carducci, located close to the coast south of Livorno and slightly north of the port, Piombino. Bolgheri has its name from the small, idyllic village of the same name.

As the only winery in Italy to have such a distinction, Tenuta San Guido received its own DOC in 1983, and since then famous wine enthusiasts have flocked to the region. Talented and innovative people like Antinori, Angelo Gaja and Michele Satta are among these, and Bolgheri now is among the most active in Tuscany.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: the wines from this region are not for everyone . Even by international standards, Bogheri wines cost a small fortune – and with good reason.

In the 800s, and all the way until the 1930s, the plots of land were owned by two branches of the della Gherardesca family, and the wine from this period is nothing to write a webpage about, but conditions were also harsh back then. The soil was depleted, and the fields were partially built between dunes on the flat plains that cover large portions of the Bolgheri zone.

In the 1930s, the plots of land were divided between the sisters, Carlotta and Clarice della Gherardesca. The latter’s inheritance consisted of the Tenuta San Guido winery, situated in the northern part of the current zone.

In 1942, Clarice’s husband, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, a member of the Antinori family, happened to plant some hectares with French grape varieties, including Cabernet, which he had purchased from a plant school close to Pisa (other sources believe that it was cuttings from Chateau Lafitte in Bordeaux). Mario had noticed the similarity between the Bolgheri zone’s rocky soil condition and Graves in Bordeaux – especially the soil’s drainage capabilities – and believed that the same great results could be achieved there.

And they could.

In the period from 1948 to 1960, the wines from Tenuta San Guido had virtually no commercial value, and they drank most of it themselves. But every year, Mario would put a little bit aside to age in the property’s cellar. What everyone until that point had assumed was a shortcoming with the wine, proved to be an essential part of its quality.

In 1965, Mario planted two new fields Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, when he realized that Sangiovese didn’t do very well in the region. One of the rocky fields was used for Sassicaia and was about 328 feet (100 meters) above sea level . Sassicaia, quite appropriately, means ”the rocky earth or field”.

Read more about Sassicaia.

Mario died in 1983, and today Tenuta San Guido is run by his son, Nicolò Incisa.

Bolgheri DOC includes three white wines, three red wines and a Rosato along with a Vin Santo.

Read more about the wines from Bolgheri DOC by clicking i the top menu in the right side.