After three days in Bolgerhi one can’t help but imagine what this area might have been like if it hadn’t for the remarkable Mario Incisa della Rocchetta.
What was it that inspired him to take the risk of planting Bordeaux grape varieties against all the Italian wine laws and in a land of wheat, olives, forest and apricots? He was brought up drinking Bordeaux but taking the plunge and planting Cabernet Sauvignon was brave and truly inspired.
The first vines were planted before the war but instead of being greeted with critical acclaim the wines were roundly criticised by the Robert Parkers of the day. Initially the wine was not released on the open market. It was only with the 1968 vintage that the Marchese was convinced by his son Nicolo and nephew Piero Antinori to begin selling Sassicaia commercially.
From then on the reputation of this great vineyard blossomed and today it is one of the great wines of the world. His pioneering attracted numerous others to follow his lead. The most important being Tenuta dell’Ornellaia who first stared planting vines in 1981.
Bolgheri is wonderful and a revelation. Stunning vineyards and estates, a delightful small walled town with great restaurants and the sea only fifteen minutes away. It is the perfect place for a long weekend. There are lots of other wines, other than those of Ornellaia and Sassicaia, to try when you are there. I particularly enjoyed those from Michele Satta, Tenuta Sette Ponti Podere and Donna Olimpia.