Nicolo Incisa Della Rocchetta
Located in the Bolgheri region, not far from the coast, this Tuscan estate earned its iconic status thanks to Sassicaia, founding father of the Supertuscans, and one of the most famous wines in Italy.
Its creator, Mario Incisa Della Rochetta, first made the pioneering decision to plant cabernet sauvignon here in the 1940s. Although cultivating cabernet in Italy was almost unheard of, Mario was a great claret fan, and he realised that the climate and soils of Bordeaux were similar to those of part of his estate. Using grafts from Château Lafite, he planted the vines by the family fortress, where they would be protected from the sea breezes. Sassicaia was launched in 1968, with the help of Giacamo Tachis – his cousin Piero Antinori's great winemaker – and Bordeaux's famous consultant oenologist Emile Peynaud.
The estate is now ably run by Mario’s son Nicolò. There are around 90 hectares of vines, although the estate itself is far larger at around 2,000 hectares, with lots of additional activities unrelated to wine taking place, such as breeding racehorses.
Today, most of the vines are south-west facing at around 75 to 100 metres above sea level, with a small number at a higher altitude further inland. This diversity of vineyard character, and the vines’ impressive average age of between 30 and 40 years, is always represented in the complexity that sets Sassicaia apart from its peers.
Sassicaia is typically a blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc. Grapes are picked by hand before being transported to the modern winery at the west of the estate, where vinification occurs in stainless-steel tanks before wines age for 20 months in small oak barriques, a third of them new. Its ageing potential often exceeds that of many great classed growths in Bordeaux.
The second wine, Guidalberto, is a blend of 60% declassified Sassicaia cabernet, as well as 40% merlot, which is also grown on the estate. It is aged in oak for the shorter time of 12 months but still has impressive ageing potential.