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Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia

The Incisa della Rocchetta family, that today produces Sassicaia, was a key player in the Medieval and Renaissance history of northern Italy. The fief of Incisa, a substantial part of the large Aleramic domain (the Incisa descend from Aleramo, one of the largest landowners of the Holy Roman Empire) went from the river Pò to the sea. The 250 square kilometers fief was rich in fortified hamlets. Its right coinage proves the independence it enjoyed. In the genealogy of the family, Leopoldo Incisa clearly stands out.

A high-ranking official of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1840, due to a severe illness, he retires still a young man from his administrative career, and goes back to the ancestral home of Rocchetta Tanaro. Here in the family estate, he is able to express his passion for modern agriculture and his œnological knowledge. A few years later he publishes two catalogues of precious Italian and foreign vines that he collected in the meantime.

Today they are a bibliographic rarity and a point of reference to anybody involved in viticulture. Almost a century later, his great-grand child, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, as a young student in agriculture, will be inspired by those books to first plant cabernet vines in Rocchetta, and then in Bolgheri.

As a student in Pisa during the 1920’s, the Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta dreamed of creating a “noble” wine. Like most of Italian aristocracy at the time, his taste in wine ran strongly to fine Bordeaux. In 1930 Mario married Clarice della Gherardesca, heiress to the tuscan estate of Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheri, on the Thyrrenean Coast, where the young couple moved to at the end of the Second World War.

There, just below the castle of Castiglioncello (about 400 meters a.s.l.), he found the “terroir” that he was searching to couple with his cabernet. Around 1940, he planted there the first vineyard of Sassicaia. In 1965, he planted two more vineyards comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The new “Sassicaia” vineyard was situated approximately 300 meters lower than the original Cabernet vineyard near Castiglioncello, and “Aianova” was slightly more elevated and thus exposed to the weather. Eventually, all of the wine produced on the estate came to be known by the name of Sassicaia.

The 1968 vintage of Sassicaia was the first to be offered on the open market, and it was as well received as the Premier Crus from Bordeaux. In subsequent years the cellars were moved to temperature-controlled quarters, wood fermentation vats were replaced with stainless steel ones, and French oak barriques were used for the ageing process. The marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta passed away in 1983. His son, Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta, now oversees all estate operations.

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