Whenever one says Tuscany, you immediately picture stunning vineyards running down the hills of Chianti Classico and Montalcino where the landscape is so untouched by modernity that it is almost like a daydream. But, what if you could actually take this stunning environment and place it right next to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea where vineyards could be born from the reflections of the ocean.
Fortunately, in 1921 Mario Incisa della Rocchetta made that dream a reality and the world of Bolgheri was born. Now homeland to the famous “Super Tuscans” led by the incredible Sassicaia by Tenuta San Guido.
A striking cypress-lined avenue welcomes you to Bolgheri, where even the most discerning wine aficionados are impressed by the region’s exceptional wines.
Thanks to the calm climate of the Tyrrhenian Sea, many grape varieties of French origin have found a second home in Bolgheri, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for the reds and Sauvignon for whites. Here, grapes are grown at a low altitude, in some cases at sea level, and vines are able to get so much sun during the year thanks to the reflection of the light created by the water. Bolgheri boasts some of the sunniest “vineyards” in the world.
The Bolgheri DOC area is located on the Tuscan west coast and runs down from the Cecina river in the north to the Cornia river in the south. While on the east, the land is enclosed by mountains, creating a unique environment for wines that are born directly in the sun, becoming some of the most expensive and tasteful wines made in Italy.
What should you expect when drinking a wine produced in Bolgheri? The unique terroir and distinct climate, combined with a heritage of superior wine-making produce unsurpassable wines, respected by sommeliers globally.
Distinct Qualities of a Super Tuscan
Visual: deep red with purple reflections
Bouquet: red fruit with big dark berries, plums, pepper, tomato leaf, vanilla and spices from the barriques (French oak barrels)
Taste: soft and warm with velvety and well-structured tannins and an evident Tuscan freshness that balances very well and saltiness
Pairing: hard, aged cheese; roasted and boiled meat
Everyone must visit the area to taste Bolgheri directly from the source while walking around the spectacular estates of Italy’s legendary wine companies like Tenuta San Guido, Ornellaia, Masseto and the “newcomers” Podere Sapaio and Le Macchiole.
The first venture into any Bolgheri journey should start at Tenuta San Guido around Castiglioncello, the deus ex machina and origin of Bolgheri. A farming estate going from the valley to 400 metres above sea level where the legend of Italian vino is produced: Sassicaia. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta started dreaming about this project in the early 1920s after falling in love with the Bordeaux wines of Grave. In the late 1940s it became a reality with productions made just to test the potential of the terroir. Only in 1968 was Sassicaia officially released, and it is still the only vineyard in Italy having its own DOC owned by a single estate.
Even though it is a new wine territory with a short tradition, Bolgheri has already produced a new breed of wine producers who, even by using the same French varieties, are giving a certain twist to the wines by making them a bit more fun but still quite deep and explosive.
It’s also impossible not to mention Podere Sapaio, the wine with the crown! Born at the end of the last century with a modern attitude and a great sense of passion, the winery’s two wines, Volpolo and Sapaio, soon became milestones in Bolgheri’s history. Massimo Piccin, the founder and owner, recently took his cru Volpolo out of the DOC by using grapes coming from his “secret” vineyard in Cecina, a few miles away from the territory. When asked why, he replies by saying that his goal is to bring top quality in the glass and that this cannot be achieved by respecting imaginary borders and that all of his beloved territory is “a place where grapes breath sea air and the breeze whispers poems … cypress trees and beaches, hills and pine-groves, stories of art and great deeds”.
Tenuta San Guido – Sassicaia DOC 2004 (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc)
Podere Sapaio – Sapaio Toscana IGT 2015 (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot)