Like other Northern Italian producers of world renowned wines, the Incisa della Rocchetta family traces its lineage back dozens of generations to forefathers who helped govern Northern Italy during the Renaissance. The family has always had estates in Bolgheri, Tuscany, but until the 1960s the wines they produced were consumed entirely on the estate. That changed in 1968 when Mario Incisa della Rocchetta released a commercial vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon called Sassicaia, which means “stony ground.” Made of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, Sassicaia is today one of Italy’s most successful wines. The estate, now run by Marchese Nicolo Incisa della Rocchetta, is credited with helping fuel the great improvements in Italian winemaking in recent decades.
Bolgheri is a tiny village just inland from the western Tuscan coast with a storybook renaissance castle but no train station. To wine enthusiasts, however, Bolgheri is Italy’s most exciting wine region, and the Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC is particularly noteworthy. It was created in 1994 explicitly for Tenuta San Guido’s highly successful Sassicaia Super Tuscan. Sassicaia, first commercially released in 1968, is considered the first Super Tuscan and it remains a highly prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. Bolgheri is the cultural heart of the Maremma, the coastal stretch of Tuscany. Marchese Incisa della Rocchetta planted Bordeaux varietals at Tenuta San Guido in the 1940s, though it took him more than 20 years to win acclaim for his Bordeaux-style blends. By the late 1970s the family was using French oak barriques in the production of Sassicaia, which is now regularly described as one of the world’s finest wines.