Sassicaia: a story of victories and a wine

Sassicaia: a story of victories and a wine





From Piedmont to Tuscany: Marquis Incisa In 1929 Mario, Marquis Incisa della Rocchetta, a noble Piedmontese family, is about to graduate in Agriculture at the University of Pisa. It is in Pisa that Mario meets Giorgio, Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, starting a long, strong friendship. Another friend is Federico Tesio, horse breeder: it is the beginning of an awesome adventure that will change the history of wine in Italy. Mario rides the thoroughbreds of the Marquis Salviati farm in Migliarino (Pisa). There he starts to appreciate the Cabernet wine as well. In October 1930 Mario Incisa marries Clerice della Gherardesca (Giorgio Ugolino's cousin) in Bolgheri (Livorno). It is one a beautiful Tuscan terroir, made famous by Carducci, 1906 Nobel prize for literature: the Bolgheri cypresses, tall and blunt running to San Guido in double row, Almost running as young giants Winning horses, winning wines..? In 1932 Tesio e Mario set up a company, a stud which will breed great champions such as Ribot and Nearco, sold to the end of its racing career in 1938 as a stud farm for the then astonishing sum of sixty thousand pounds to the Newmarket Beech House Stud (UK). With his winning attitude Mario continued his studies in oenology as well, nurturing that passion for wine which runs in the family since the '800: in 1792 Leopoldo Incisa della Rocchetta  was born, who had cultivated and cataloged various vines, publishing various texts, the most famous of which, the "descriptive and reasoned catalog of grape varieties", describes the vines known by Leopold praising Cabernet, Cabernet Gris (Franc), grape varieties used in Bordeaux, stressing that they were the most precious he had ever worked. In the "Catalog" was already marked, then, the key to the future success of Sassicaia produced by Mario, the great grandson of Leopoldo. Experiments Mario began his experiments in a small plot next to the Castiglioncello cemetery: perfect conditions for the "barbatelle" (cuttings) of Cabernet from the Marquis Salviati estate! It was a pebbly plot (sassoso, then the name of "Sassicaia" with specifics quite close to the Bordeaux terroir! But the beginnings has not been easy: years of trying, and failures... The wine production was supervised by a renowned winemaker: Giacomo Tachis, with an oenology diploma from Bordeaux and student of Emile Peynaud (1912 - 2004), for 30 years Antinori's winemaker and director of production, the "father" of Tignanello and Solaia.  A family business wine..? But until 1968, Sassicaia was used only in the Tenuta della Gherardesca, between relatives and friends who never ceased to incite Mario to move forward in its quest for a great wine! Mario sent two bottles to Luigi Veronelli, the renowned wine expert, accompanied by a note in which he wrote that his workers were talking about this wine as a "pigsty": but the Veronelli understood immediately that the wine was sublime! From here on, many tastings with older vintages and those who still were not convinced, had to change their mind as well, because those notes that in untrained noses seem defects (and they are not really!!!) with aging were become great perks! A perfect vintage, a unique wine 1985 is the "Annus Mirabilis", the perfect year of Sassicaia: it becomes one of the most important wines all over the world, another victory for Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, The raise of the Barrique in Italy and of Cabernet on the Etruscan Riviera! The Bolgheri area has given birth to many other great wines with the same grapes, but Sassicaia remains the one and only "DOC SASSICAIA".