The tale of one of the world’s most popular and best wines—called Super Tuscans—began with a marriage in Rome. It started with a man named, Mario Incisa Della Rochetta. He had an extraordinary passion for agriculture and horses, and had served in the cavalry during World War I.
After returning from the war, he joined the faculty of Agriculture, where he got married to Clarice Della Gherardesca in 1930. After World War II, Clarice inherited some property in Bolgheri, Tuscany. So the couple decided to relocate. Mario farmed his first vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon on the land in 1944. He was inspired by his grandfather, who served as a collector of wine.
Mario named his wine Sassicaia – i.e., Land of Many Stones. In 1968, his son Nicole and his nephew began selling the wine. In 1972, at a wine-tasting event, the 6-year old Sassicaia won over 33 other wines from 11 different countries in a tasting of great Clarets. This event proved to be a turning point in the history of Bolgheri wine production. In the succeeding years, Bolgheri became famous across Italy as well as abroad.
Eventually these wines were called Super Tuscans. In order to be a Super Tuscan the wine must be from Tuscany and be made with grapes that are not typical to the region, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The first ever Super Tuscan was Sassicaia.
Today, Bolgheri is home to some of Italy’s most famous wines. The wines from Bolgheri are popular for their delicate and light favors. This is partly due to the soil in Bolgheri, it is made of clay & limestone which retains water well and doesn’t create a strong, earthy flavor when the wine is fermented.
In order to produce Bolgheri wine, grapes must be grown following specific vineyard practices that have been mastered throughout time by winemakers in this region. The three primary grape types used in Bolgheri wine are Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Albarola and Trebbiano Toscano. Besides red wines, white wines have gained a lot of popularity, especially those made from Vermentino, a grape variety that performs well near the sea.
Bolgheri’s wines have been ranked amongst Italy’s best wines by several prestigious wine experts, such as Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, and Wine Spectator.
Also read: Brunello di Montalcino: A Tuscan Splendor!
In 1994, Sassicaia was awarded its own DOC – i.e., Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC. It is the only wine from a state in Italy with such privilege. Before this status, Sassicaia was classified as an Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT).