Tenuta San Guido is named after the Saint Guido della Gherardesca who lived during the XI century. It is located on the Tyrrhenian coast, between Leghorn and Grosseto, in Maremma an area made famous by Italian Nobel prize winner Giosuè Carducci, and it stretches for 13 km from the sea to the hills.
Three are its defining characteristics: the Sassicaia wine, the Razza Dormello-Olgiata thoroughbred studfarm and the Bird Sanctuary Padule di Bolgheri. They divide the estate between the Padule on the coast, the horse’s training grounds on the plain, and the vineyards planted up to 350 meters on the hills. The latter have been given their own DOC, the DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, the first, and so far only case in Italy of a DOC contained in one estate.
The wedding of Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and Clarice della Gherardesca on October 18th 1930 started it all.
They shared a love for thoroughbred horses that made them form a partnership with horse breeder and trainer Federico Tesio. Mario Incisa’s love of good wine made him plant Cabernet vines in 1942 for what was to become Sassicaia. Seventeen years later the Bolgheri Bird Sanctuary becomes Italy’s first private nature preserve.
The vineyards of Tenuta San Guido cover approximately 90 hectares and are divided into areas chosen for the particular characteristics of both exposure and composition of the soil.
Some of the vines are planted on the hillside, at an altitude ranging from 200 to 300 meters a.s.l..
For example, the vineyards of San Martino and Mandrioli are close to the hills in the central area of the estate, while the remaining are located lower, at an altitude of about 80 meters a.s.l..
Climate is crucial for a correct and healthy maturation of the grapes. It is influenced by the sea and by the hills that shelter the estate from the inland winds.
The location of vineyards in different areas and elevation is an important factor in the complexity of the wines, and provides a wide choice for the harvest, depending on the weather conditions and the maturation of the grapes. This was recently proved in a study by the University of Pisa that highlighted the uniqueness of the vineyards of Tenuta San Guido by soil type and exposure, compared to the surrounding area.
The vineyards produce about 55-60 quintals (5500-6000 kg) per hectare. The farming system and the low yield of grapes per vine, give a product that is healthy and rich in sugar, tannin and extract.
- Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta
- Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta e Carlo Paoli
- Annual Production
- 930.000 bottles
- 115 ha
- Web site
Bolgheri is a relatively young yet prestigious Italian appellation located in the Maremma on the Tuscan coast just to the south of Livorno, and named after a town in the north of the region. It is known mainly for deeply coloured, supple yet ageworthy red wines, usually based on the Bordeaux grape varieties. The winemaking zone features sloping coastal vineyards close to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
As recently as the 1970s, the area had little reputation for wine production, regarded elsewhere in Tuscany as something of a swampy zone producing fairly nondescript white wines and rosés, and better suited to other farming, in contrast to the prime Tuscan vineyards further up in the hills. Then, in 1978, in an infamous blind tasting arranged by Decanter Magazine, the 1972 vintage of a largely unknown wine called Sassicaia, made at Tenuta San Guido estate of the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, beat a number of top Bordeaux wines. Wine had been been made at Tenuta San Guido in a rather rustic fashion for personal consumption for some years previously, and only commercialized from the 1968 vintage, but this early example of a more polished version made by legendary winemaking consultant Giacomo Tachis led to an awakening of interest in the region.
Sassicaia’s name (“stony field”) alludes to the banks of gravel in the area, reminiscent of vineyards in the Graves and the Haut-Médoc, which inspired the French wine loving Marchese to plant Bordeaux varieties – particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – rather than Sangiovese.
The sunny, dry and breezy climate of Bolgheri and the stony soils with clay patches have attracted further vineyard expansion mostly focusing on red Bordeaux varieties.
Until the current DOC regulations were laid down in 1994, Sassicaia and the other Super Tuscan wines produced here were usually sold as Vino da Tavola or Toscana IGT. Today a Bolgheri Rosso, Rosso Superiore or Rosé may be made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or a blend combining one or more of these, and/or up to 50 percent of Syrah or Sangiovese. Other red grapes such as Petit Verdot may account for up to 30 percent.
The white wine grape most often used in Bolgheri Bianco is Vermentino, which may account for up to 70 percent of the wine. Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano Toscano may contribute up to 40 percent, and others no more than 30 percent. There are separate Bolgheri Sauvignon and Bolgheri Vermentino DOCs that must contain 85 percent of the headline grape variety. Many white wine examples are relatively light, crisp and refreshing, though there are some examples of barrel-matured whites.