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Sassicaia could be described as Italy’s answer to Bordeaux, but we prefer to see it as Italy’s answer to the world! We think Sassicaia is one of the greatest wine creations of our century. It also happens to be a simply marvellous drink”. - Serena SutcliffE MW and David Peppercorn MW, Italy's Answer to the World
Tenuta San Guido produce three wines from their estate in Bolgheri; Le Difese, Guidalberto and the iconic Sassicaia. The Sassicaia estate at Bolgheri, in coastal Tuscany, came to Nicolò through his mother, Clarice Della Gheradesca, whose family has owned land here since 1800. The magnificent avenue of Cypress trees, which lines the road for three miles from San Guido up the hill to Bolgheri, was planted by Guidalberto Della Gheradesca at the beginning of the 1800s. It is now a famous landmark, protected by law as part of the landscape.
Traditionally, the family only made wine here for the consumption of relations, friends and local people; but Nicolò’s father Mario, who came from Piedmont, was a great wine lover, particularly of the best Bordeaux wines. Mario decided to make his own wine on the estate, which until then had only been famous for the breeding of racehorses and the production of tulips. The Antinoris were cousins and there may also, perhaps, have been an element of competition involved. The Incisa Della Rocchetta family launched Sassicaia onto the open market with the 1968 vintage: the first to be commercially produced; and it was as well received as the Premiers Crus of Bordeaux. Six hundred cases were produced, and were marketed by the Antinoris. It was after completing his studies in Geneva that Nicolò became involved in the estate. Initially he was not permitted by his father to have anything to do with the wine because Mario feared that he would spoil things. A fascinating but domineering man, Mario must initially have been a difficult man to follow; but the worldwide recognition enjoyed by Sassicaia today speaks eloquently of Nicolò’s success.
The first vineyard was planted on the estate in the early 1940s (with some French grafts of Cabernet Sauvignon purchased from Château Lafite) near Castiglioncello, the Incisa Della Rochetta fortress which dominates the local landscape. The site was selected because of its perfect microclimate and the shelter from the sea breezes provided by the castle. The vineyard carries the name of the castle, and as each subsequent vineyard has been planted, it has been named after a nearby farmhouse or landmark. Eighty per cent of the vineyards enjoy a south-westerly exposure, and are planted at an altitude of between 250-300 feet above sea level; with the remainder further into the hills at an altitude of between 500-600 feet, seven miles inland.
‘Sassicaia is the quintessential Italian Cabernet Sauvignon. In very good to outstanding vintages, it shows a wonderful richness of berry, cassis and even a minty character, along with firm, silky tannins and a great backbone of acidity’. - James Suckling, The Wine Spectator