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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.
Sassicaia means “the place of many stones,” and refers to the region’s gravel soil. The original vineyards have a southwest exposure with extensive sun and maritime breezes that create robust vegetation. The grapes were handpicked, destemmed and crushed before fermenting with natural yeasts for 15 days in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged in French oak barriques (40% new) for 24 months, then refined for 6 months in bottle before release.
The climate in Italy in 1996 was not particularly favourable for wine: it was in fact rather negative, except in certain Mediterranean areas.
The spring was cold at the beginning and it caused a slight delay in budding. Later on temperatures increased enabling perfect flowering and setting of the berry. Around the second half of August, a 'green harvest' was carried out, leaving only the best clusters on the vines to ripen. These clusters ripened perfectly and at the time of the harvest were in excellent condition with good development of their aromatic and varietal characteristics.
Harvest: The grapes from the 1996 harvest were excellent in all aspects: healthy, high sugar content, excellent polyphenol content thanks to the quality and quantity of its sweet tannins. The harvest began on September 16th and finished in the second half of October.
Wine making: The fermentation temperature range was between 28° and 31°C. The maceration took between 13 and 15 days, according to the quality of the grapes and the malolactic
fermentations were already finished before the end of October, so that from the 30th October the first new racked-off wines were in barriques. The colouring of '96 was intense, thanks to an interesting anthocyanic content,
supported by a rich tannic potential.
Ageing: On October 22nd the wine was put in the barriques, 50% new and the rest used once
or twice before. During its first year of ageing the wine was racked every three months as it was very rich in extractive substances. After about 22 months in the barrel it was bottled as usual, without filtering only after a very light fining with egg white, and it aged a further six months before being put on the market.