Bolgheri is a small but prestigious appellation located in the coastal Maremma region, Tuscany. For a long time, Bolgheri was less famous than other great Italian wines like Barolo or Barbaresco, but everything changed in the 1970’s.
Bolgheri first rose to attention in 1978, when a six-year-old Sassicaia won over a selection of Bordeaux wines during a blind tasting arranged by the wine magazine Decanter. This wine made by wine estate Tenuta San Guido, drew the attention and awaked the interest in the region.
English-speaking journalists talked about ‘Super Tuscans’ when describing Sassicaia and other high-quality red wines from Bolgheri. The wines were clearly better than the common table wines or ‘Vini da tavola’, but there was no DOC to confirm.
Inspired by the French
Sassicaia’s name refers to the gravel soil, which reminded Marchese winemakers of the French wine regions Graves and Haut-Médoc. They planted mainly the Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. In the 1980’s the Ornellaia estate also started to plant Merlot because of the clay in the soil of the vineyard.
Bolgheri has three main areas: the hills, the intermediate area, and the area close to the sea. Each area has its own typical soil. The soil of the hills reveals the oldest alluvial deposits, which is a mix of silt, clay, sand and gravel. Further down, the alluvial deposits are young and to the west - closest to the sea - they are mixed with marine deposits.
Bolgheri has a relatively young history: the oldest vineyards were planted in the 1940’s by wine estate Tenuta San Guido. But in a very short time, the Italian wine region became a fascinating place for wine lovers.
Bolgheri: geography and climate
Bolgheri runs parallel to the Tuscan coast. Hills between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci protect the vineyards from cold winter winds. While in the summer cool winds sweep through the area. Because of the moderate temperatures during summer, the grapes can mature slow and regular. Bolgheri also enjoys the reflection of light from the sea located to the west. This microclimate results in balanced wines that are perfect for your wine collection.
Bolgheri, a relatively young DOC
The region around the village Bolgheri was most famous for its rosé and white wines until the 1970’s. The wines received an official appellation status in 1984, which was extended to red wines only in 1994. Before the creation of the appellation, the red wines of Bolgheri were sold as ‘Vini da tavola’ or ‘IGT Toscana’. Wines labelled IGT do not meet DOC or DOCG designations but are seen to be a higher quality wine above ‘Vini da tavola’.
Bolgheri Rosso, Rosso Superiore and Rosé
The Bolgheri Rosso, Rosso Superiore and Rosé can be made entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or a blend. The blend must consist of one or more of these three grape varieties and/or up to 50% of Syrah or Sangiovese. Other local red varieties are allowed up to 30%. A Bolgheri Rosso has an ageing period of 24 months. Only when the composition and ageing period comply the rules of the DOC, the wine receives the DOC label.
Super Tuscan Sassicaia for example, has an unchanged composition of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. While the composition for Guidalberto, another wine by the wine estate Tenuta San Guido, may vary.
Also very popular among the Bolgheri wines is Scrio, a powerful Syrah wine from the estate La Macchiole. The Tuscan word ‘Scrio’ translates as pure, genuine, honest and this wine is the perfect gift for those pure of heart. The yearly production is limited to 5,000 bottles.
Most Bolgheri Bianco wines are made of Vermentino, which can be up to 70% of the composition. Tuscan Trebbiano and Sauvignon Blanc are allowed up to 40% and other local up to 30%.
There are two varietal wines: Bolgheri Sauvignon Blanc and Bolgheri Vermentino. These wines must contain 85% of either grape variety. A varietal wine is made primarily from one single grape variety, which is often displayed on the wine label.
The perfect gem for your wine cellar
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