Bolgheri is a relatively young yet prestigious Italian appellation located in the Maremma on the Tuscan coast just to the south of Livorno, and named after a town in the north of the region. It is known mainly for deeply coloured, supple yet ageworthy red wines, usually based on the Bordeaux grape varieties. The winemaking zone features sloping coastal vineyards close to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
As recently as the 1970s, the area had little reputation for wine production, regarded elsewhere in Tuscany as something of a swampy zone producing fairly nondescript white wines and rosés, and better suited to other farming, in contrast to the prime Tuscan vineyards further up in the hills. Then, in 1978, in an infamous blind tasting arranged by Decanter Magazine, the 1972 vintage of a largely unknown wine called Sassicaia, made at Tenuta San Guido estate of the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, beat a number of top Bordeaux wines. Wine had been been made at Tenuta San Guido in a rather rustic fashion for personal consumption for some years previously, and only commercialized from the 1968 vintage, but this early example of a more polished version made by legendary winemaking consultant Giacomo Tachis led to an awakening of interest in the region.
If Mario Incisa, creator of Sassicaia, was inspired by his great-uncle Leopoldo Incisa della Rocchetta, then his son Nicolò, director of Tenuta San Guido since forty years, has been motivated by Guidalberto della Gherardesca his great great great grandfather. The latter, who lived in the early nineteenth century in Bolgheri was a pioneer of modern agriculture, and is famous for having planted the cypress alley that inspired the poet Giosuè Carducci.
Nicolò Incisa explains thus the choice of the name and creation of this new wine in 2000: “The wine was created for two reasons: First of all, the desire to see what we could accomplish with Merlot, a grape that we had never used before; second, the desire to offer the consumer a wine which could be appreciated at a younger age compared to our veteran Sassicaia”.
60 % Cabernet Sauvignon 40 % Merlot, the vineyards are planted on plots of land with different and composite morphological characteristics, as well as with a strong presence of limestone. These areas are also rich in rocks and rather rich in clay and are located at an altitude between 100 and 300 meters above sea level, facing SSW.
Winemaker’s tasting note
“Healthy, crunchy and well-ripened grapes produced musts that are not excessively rich in structure, considering what was expected from this vintage. They are rather characterized by a good acidity which supports the higher degree of alcohol of this vintage. The soft and silky tannins were already present in the musts and are the underlying characteristic of Guidalberto 2017. A wine that will need a longer time of aging in bottle, but that will surely develop an incredible bouquet and palate”.
Fresh herbs, cedar, black raspberries, orange peel and citrus. Very balanced and focused on the palate, thanks to cutting acidity, but with firm, chewy tannins that envelop a plethora of red fruit.
The 2017 Guidalberto is a stellar wine. Rich, ample and resonant, the 2017 possesses superb depth and textural richness, both signatures of this warm, dry vintage. I suppose in the most technical sense, the 2017 is not the last word on complexity. But it is supremely delicious, it is that kind of wine opened and finished quickly – and of course, the ultimate goal of a wine is to deliver pleasure. The 2017 Guidalberto hits it out of the park on that level.
Subtle aromas of cedar, cassis, tobacco and a whiff of camphor slowly take shape in the glass. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, the tightly knit, elegant palate delivers dried black cherry, red currant, blood orange and licorice while fine-grained tannins provide tight support. It closes on a coffee-bean note.