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Sassicaia’s unstoppable success

Sassicaia San Guido sixth most desired wine in the world

After the 1st position in the TOP 100 by Wine Spectator then the  100 /100 from Robert Parker. The San Guido star shines brighter and brighter



By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

As well as clever they are very kind, they are humble, they speak and act with extreme simplicity and reserved, as true aristocrats are.

It is in fact the very  austerity, elegant in many ways, but where there is no trace of ostentation, that makes the competitors mad, <<how can they have all that success without doing anything at all>>is the surprised comment from all the rest.  Hence, a little bit of jealousy , and the word nothing that includes many things: no “shoving” to get to the limelight, no pharaonic events, no self celebrating books, and above all no media overexposure of the bottles or the people …. The only great thing , it seems like, is  the increase in value of the bottles and this has been emphasized by Liv-ex the luxury wine portal. A growth, in recent years, that has beaten some of the great French chateaux.




Sassicaia is born in a winery called Tenuta San Guido and it is a legendary place for many reasons. There is the row of cypresses told of by Nobel Prize winner for literature Giosuè Carducci “ che a Bólgheri alti e schietti van da San Guido in duplice filar, quasi in corsa giganti giovinetti”.

Here one finds the stables Razza Dormello Olgiata, where the super horse Ribot, one of the most prestigious champions of all times.

Also here is the first nature oasis in Italy, created by Mario Incisa della Rocchetta who was also the first president of the WWF.

In this sequence of excellencies one also finds the first wine able to beat French bottles challenging them with their king of varieties Cabernet Sauvignon. It was in 1978, in London, that the wine critic Hugh Johnson, at that time without rivals for fame and authoritativeness. He organizes for the first time for the Decanter magazine a blind tasting of the best 33 Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. And surprisingly the Sassicaia 1975 won.


Tenuta San Guido Incisa della Rocchetta, Sassicaia


A success that surprised and created a myth for this wine and in later years it continued its ascent towards the world wine summits. With the 1985 vintage it received 100/100 from Robert Parker- Wine Advocate. This was the first ever time that the American wine critic awarded the maximum rating to an Italian wine. This type of recognition arrived excruciatingly slowly in Italy, and the next wine was once again Sassicaia, vintage 2016, that won it a second time after 34 years. No other Italian wine had succeeded before.


But, finally,  what is the secret of this myth of a wine? It is born on 86 hectares of vineyard out of the  3.000 at the tenuta San Guido and this already emphasized meticulous choice of terroir. The land is very old; the vines are picked by hand under the command o f 4 agronomists <<the vineyard need the farmer’s shade>> they told us when I visited with my friends form the Union Européenne des Gourmets.


Such an extraordinary and famous area so much so that it became the first and only estate DOC  existent in Italy: Doc Bolgheri Sassicaia.



It was thanks to the genial intuition of the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta that this land was planted with international grape varieties such as Cabernet.

The historic Sassicaia winery that I visited with Giacomo Tachis many years ago is still existent, not far from the present day one which was designed by Agnese Mazzei, and is used for most of the winemaking procedures.

Many women are involved in the modern Sassicaia myth: the winemaker Graziana Grassini, the Marchesa Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta who collaborates with her father Nicolò and has recently guided the tasting of their wines at the New York Wine Experience. It was in fact  Wine Spectator who awarded Sassicaia with 100/100 and then put it on top of the most desired list in the world, the TOP 100 , that every years lists, for quality and prestige the bottles sold during the last 12 months.

What a dream!

And what a great example of courage for all Italian wineries, and how offbeat!

The Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, after the war, made the revolutionary decision to plan Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in land that up until then was know only for its fruit trees, because when he was a young boy he had realized that some characteristics of the red wines from the area recalled those in wines from Bordeaux.

This is called intuition!  Similarly all of us producers have such cases of intuition at least once in our lives and we are scared to put them into practice as it would mean going against the grain..maybe we should be more courageous.