The why, the what and the how of...

Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia

The original ‘Super Tuscan’ Sassicaia is without a doubt one of Italy’s most famous and sought-after wines.

The story begins in the 1920s, with the co-owner of one of the world’s greatest (if not the greatest) racehorses, Ribot. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta wanted to create a ‘thoroughbred’ wine, and for him the gold standard was Bordeaux.

The land in Bolgheri had been in the family for years and is in fact where Sassicaia draws its name from, meaning “the place of many stones”. This has even been compared to the gravelly soils found in the Médoc, particularly Graves. The land was planted with the same grapes as the Bordeaux region – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

97 hectares of the 2,500-hectare DOCG Sassicaia Bolgheri estate are used for production of Sassicaia. Attention to detail is naturally the order of the day both in the vineyards and the cellar. Grapes pass over the sorting table and are the soft-pressed, destemmed and fermented in stainless steel – initiated by indigenous yeasts. Following the completion of malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged for 24 months in French oak – one third of which is new. The final blend is usually 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 % Cabernet Franc. Not to be overlooked are the second and third wines, Guidalberto and Le Difese. Guidalberto is a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend (along with 30% Merlot) that offers fantastic value to those that keep their hands off the wine for 10 years or so. Le Difese, the third wine, incorporates 30% Sangiovese (the rest being Cabernet Sauvignon) so has more of a Tuscan feel and is usually slightly lighter and often geared for earlier drinking.

For many years, up until 1967, Sassicaia was a private wine, destined only for family consumption. However, in 1968 the wine became commercially available and it took the fine wine world by storm. A new, ‘Super Tuscan’, genre was born. In 1994, Sassicaia cemented its iconic status by being granted the rare privilege of having its own DOC. This truly is a wine that justifies its legendary status.

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