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The saying “behind every great wine is a great man” is fairly true in the history of wines.

Several of todays legendary wines have born just because of the force and foresight of these wine pioneers who had the vision and courage to create something out the ordinary in their own region. Often these men lived and influenced wine areas, which prior to their success had produced mediocre wines at most for decades or even for centuries.

In a way Brunello di Montalcino owes its origin to the Ferruccio Biondi Santi, The Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico to Domingo de Garramiola y Arbe, Château Musar to Gaston Hochar, Penfolds Grange to Max Schubert, Barca Velha to Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, and Tignanello to Marchese Piero Antinori, as does Sassicaia to Marquis Mario Incisa della Rochetta.

Sassicaia was the drive and foresight of Marquis Mario Incisa della Rochetta, a native of Piedmont, along with the guidance from Piero Antinori´s winemaker Giacomo Tachis.In the 1920s, whilst a student in Pisa, Marquis Mario Incisa della Rochetta dreamed of creating a “refined” wine. Like many of the Italian aristocracy at the time, he preferred the taste of the finest Bordeaux – Château Margaux was particularly his favorite.


In 1940 he moved with his wife to his Tuscan estate, the Tenuta San Guido, located a few miles from Bolgheri, a small town on the Tuscan coast. Because of its nearness to the sea, Bolgheri had never before been considered as a quality wine region. After settling down, Marquis della Rochetta experimented with several grape varieties and came to a conclusion that it was Cabernet that had that refined bouquet he was looking for.

In 1942 he planted one thousand cuttings of Cabernet vines from Château Lafite-Rothschild on the hillsides of Castiglioncello, which in his opinion was influenced by the location’s similarity to graves in Bordeaux. “Graves” means “gravel” in French, and likewise, the earth at Castiglioncello gave Sassicaia its name, which in Tuscan dialect means “stony grounds”. To make wine that had Cabernet Sauvignon as its primary variety was a brave decision and took courage in those days, when no one had even considered to make wines from Bordeaux varieties on Italian soil. Despite protest from the local´s, he kept experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon as a sideline, separate from the main family business of raising thoroughbred racehorses. Nevertheless it was never his intention to make commercial wine; he “unintentionally” created the most influential wine in modern Italian history.


The first bottles of Sassicaia appeared in small quantities in 1948, and were all enjoyed by himself and his guests on the estate. From then on to the early 1960s, Sassicaia was a completely private estate, and all the Sassicaias were drunk on the estate itself. Each year, a small number of cases were stored in the cellars, and the Marquis discovered that the wine seriously improved with age.


In the mid 1960s he planted two more vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The first one, new “Sassicaia” vineyard (about 10 hectares), was situated approximately 300 meters lower than the original vineyard, as was the second one “Aianova” vineyard (three hectares). In time all the wines produced from these vineyards became known as Sassicaia.


After almost 30 years of experimentation and solid work the Marquis decided to release Sassicaia´s 1968 vintage to the open market using his cousin´s, Antinori´s distribution network in the early 1970s, with instant sensation. At a Decanter tasting of Cabernet wines in London, 1978, Sassicaia from vintage 1972 beat all the other 33 wines of France and California, and since then Sassicaia has been one of the leading wines in the world and in great demand among wine collectors and investors. The marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta passed away in 1983. His son,  Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta, now oversees all estate operations.

In 1994 Sassicaia was granted its own DOC (Sassicaia DOC), the only wine from a single estate in Italy to enjoy this privilege. Before that, and in similarity to other wines made outside the traditional DOC/DOCG regulations, Sassicaia was classified as an Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT). Initially it was a Vino da tavola, which is normally a category for wines of little complexity.

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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.

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The mitigating influence of the Mediterranean Sea prevents drastic temperature variations.  Tenuta San Guido cultivates fruit from several plots scattered around Bolgheri extending 75 hectares (190 acres), with a grape variety distribution of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The annual production is approximately 180,000 bottles. Thanks to the microclimate of the Bolgheri amphitheatre of hills, harvesting normally takes place very early towards the end of August. The picking is totally made by hand to ensure that the faulty fruits are removed. The grapes are loaded into little boxes and carried to the winery; once there, they are put on a sorting table to keep only the healthiest berries. 

The second wine, Guidalberto, was introduced in 2000, and is composed of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese, and has an annual production of 150,000 bottles.

The most recent addition to the portfolio, Le Difese, is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese, with an annual production of 120,000 bottles.

The Sassicaia ageing cellar is quite recent, it has been completed around 2008; about 1400 barrels are stored here. 

- Sassicaia is aged in French oak barriques (one third new) coming from different tonnelleries for 24 months. The wine is refined for six months in bottles before release.

- Guidalberto is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barriques and refined for three months in bottle before release. 

- Le Difese is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barriques and refined for three months in bottle before release. 


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  • Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta

    If I had to pick one vintage, it would be 1988: of course everyone goes crazy about 1985 because it received a perfect score from Parker, but to me 1988 was also a stellar year that really shows the Sassicaia style loud and clear.


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Last evening was a real " Voyage autour du monde" along with the top 24 wines that wine countries can offer, and there was only four of us enjoying them...Unfortunately, quite a lot of bottles remained half empty, but not the Petrus 2003, Cheval Blanc 1947, Screaming Eagle 1999, Pingus 1995, Haut-Brion Blanc 1995, Lafleur 1996 etc.

4m 26d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  27 wines 

A Taste of Greatness -tasting with perfect wines like Martha's Vineyards 1974, Harlan 1994, Sassicaia 1985, Pingus 1995, Yquem 1899 etc.

6m 1d ago

 Thomas Alsgaard, Pro (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Martha's Vineyard 1970, Sassicaia 1970, Grange 1970, Unico 1970 etc.

7m 17d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  15 wines 

A perfect Grange 1971 -100Points. 

It's not the first time the 1971 Grange has bettered the French at their own game. In 1979, Penfolds caused a sensation in France when the upstart Australian winery topped the Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad in Paris. The 1971 Grange beat some of the best Rhone wines ever made.

The judging panel contemplates the best wines the 1970s had to offer. 
"If you had to point to a wine which fulfilled the ambitions of Grange it would have to be the 1971," Schubert remarked in 1993, just months before he passed away.

According to the tasting notes, the 1971 Grange is "medium deep brick red" and "an immensely complex and mature wine with lifted smoked meat, dark chocolate, mocha and liquorice aromas".

The 1971 Grange is a blend of 87 per cent shiraz and 13 per cent cabernet sauvignon grapes, which were sourced from the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, and Magill Estate in Adelaide, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. The wine has an unusually low alcohol of around 12.3 per cent, which may have helped contribute to its incredible longevity.



9m 18d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  23 wines 

“Magnum tasting with wines like Latour and Haut-Brion 1929, Margaux 1918 and 1953, Martha's Vineyard 1974, Sassicaia 1985 etc.”

1y 17d ago

 Tess Murray / Sommelier, Pro (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  28 wines 

“1990 Barolo Cannubi Boschis by Luciano Sandrone. The vintage 1990 marks the beginning of a new era in Italian wine production. Modernisation and new innovative producers made their final breakthrough in this outstanding vintage. Hot and dry summer with cool night time temperature created wines of high quality and perfect phenolic ripeness. The third good vintage in a row in Piedmont!
Luciano Sandrone is one of the heroes of the Italian wine renaissance having contributed significantly to the modernization of Piedmont wines. Sandrone bought his first vineyard from the Cannubi hill in 1978. It was tiny in size - less than a hectare - but large enough to start lifting Sandrone on to the Piedmont wine map. 1990 was a successful vintage for the single vineyard Barolo Cannubi Boschis.
Developed, glossy medium-deep browning colour. The nose is lifted and nicely maturing; great expression of tar and roses, roasted and earthy notes. The mouth-feel is silky and smooth, firmed attractively by ripe tannin and refreshing acidity. This wine is harmonious and evolved today but no doubt will keep and improve for another decade.

1y 3m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  21 wines 

“This was the tasting hosted by one of Australia's top importers, Negociants, for their Working with Wine program. Run every two years, it is a wonderful event, a series of seminars with top winemakers around the country (Yquem is the next, later this year). This time it was Tuscany focusing on Antinori and Isole. ”

1y 5m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  19 wines 

“This was a fabulous Italian lunch (at Tartuffe in Brisbane). The idea is everyone brings a top-notch bottle or two of the ‘theme of the day’. In this case, great Italian. That said, we kicked off with a White Burg as no one thought there was any Italian whites good enough (there was an old Vin Santo at the end of the day, but sadly I could not decipher my own notes – bad enough at any time but not helped after a day like this).
We then had the obligatory Champers and then it was into the reds. The first couple served blind, though the person who brought them felt both fell short of what they should have shown (and had before). Then it was into Piedmont and Tuscany and a fine battle for supremacy. In the end, it was Piedmont hands down. Daylight second.
Fabulous collection of wines. ”

1y 6m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  7 wines 

“I have tasted Latour 1928 5 times in the 1990´s, also quite a few times during 2000's and it has always been a first-class claret (all the bottles has scored 95-98 points). On the last occasion in 2016 it was still very vigorous and a lovely wine, maybe even better than ever before.
Excellent looking bottle with top shoulder level. Decanted for tone hour. Very vigour and deep, bright color. Rich, ripe, even fresh and open nose with earthy and black fruit and truffle flavors. Well balanced as always, rich and full wine, which has been developing beautifully throughout the last 30 years, getting hold of even more intensity and complexity. It is now a multi dimensional, fat, thick, chocolaty wine with long, attractive, slightly tannic aftertaste. Generous and a mouthful of wine. 98 points”

1y 6m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  30 wines 

“A true masterpiece by Gérard Chave - Hermitage 1990. Chave is known for opting for blending Syrah from their 15 ha vineyards on the Hermitage hill. Their philosophy is against single vineyard wines since blending guarantees more complexity in the wine. In this superb wine this is clearly indicated by the tremendous complexity. Syrah from Bessards is giving rich fruit intensity and concentration to the wine while Méal more depth in flavours and bouquet. Rocoules adds finesse in structure and length along the floral tones. L’Hermite contributes peppery earthy tones and colour. Péléat gives wildness and firmness in structure whereas Diognières provides colour and the savoury tastiness. Gérard Chave himself has compared this top vintage to 1952 and 1961.
Fine looking bottle. Decanted for two hours. This beautiful Hermitage has a deep, dark and seductive colour. On the nose amazing aromas of blackberry, vanilla, herbs and refreshing minerals. The palate was remarkably rich and long and less tannic than expected. The finish was super-long and pure with pleasant sweetness and rich, earthy flavours. This is the essence of Syrah with a long life span ahead.

1y 7m ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  13 wines 

“A Grand-tasting in Munich with vintages 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2005.
Sassicaia 1985 100 points and Grange 1975 97 poins + so many more....”

1y 7m ago

 Rytis Jurkenas / Champagne Expert, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tenuta San Guido . In a tasting of  11 wines 

““Penfolds Grange 1971 - 98 points / Good looking normal size bottle, is in a perfect condition and has by the neck level. Colour is ruby red, and looking bright, dark and deep. On the nose it is intense, youthful, refined, fresh and generous. The taste is rich, focused, vigor, refined, with silky tannins, full-bodied, with perfectly balanced, concentrated and complex structure. The finish is long, round, flavorful, pure and spicy. This wine is intelligent, transparent and impressive. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 10-15 years and decant at least 2h before tasting.””

1y 9m ago

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