Hailed as the standard-bearer of Italian enology, the historic Tenuta San Guido estate is known for crafting Sassicaia, the world’s first Super Tuscan and an important contribution to Italy’s evolving reputation as a fine-wine producing nation in the mid-20th century. From the ambition of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta to plant Bordeaux varieties in Tuscany in the 1940s to the arrival of acclaimed consulting oenologist Giacomo Tachis to the introduction of two additional wines to the brand, Tenuta San Guido has vaulted from success to success.
Just as the Graves region of Bordeaux is named for its gravelly soil, so Sassicaia is an area of Bolgheri, in coastal Tuscany, named for its many stones. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta had enjoyed the fine wines of Bordeaux as a young man in the 1920s and dreamed of planting his own vineyard one day. This plan came to pass after 1930, when he married Marchesa Clarice della Gherardesca, whose dowry included the 7,500-acre estate of Tenuta San Guido that her family had owned for centuries, in the province of Livorno on the western outskirts of Tuscany, near the village of Bolgheri. Mario Incisa noticed a similarity between this land and the Bordeaux vineyards he was familiar with.
In 1944, Mario Incisa acquired a number of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vine cuttings from a vineyard near Pisa and planted them on a sloping hillsideoverlooking the San Guido estate, called Castiglioncello after the small, 11th-century castle of the same name, used as a hunting lodge, at the vineyard's upper edge.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, important technical changes were made, and Nicoló Incisa began to take over wine production from his father and transform Tenuta San Guido into the internationally recognized producer of fine wines that it is today. In 1970, with his cousin Piero Antinori, Nicoló convinced his father to allow the commercialization of Sassicaia and formed an alliance with consultant Giacomo Tachis, who helped to modernize the production of Sassicaia, with controlled-temperature fermentation, lower yields and shorter maturation in oak.With the 1977 vintage, the first French Tronçais oak barriques were introduced, which made a dramatic difference in the wine.
The 2000 vintage was the first release of a new IGT Toscana wine—called Guidalberto—from newly planted vineyards dedicated to its production. Named after Guidalberto della Gherardesca, a maternal ancestor of Nicoló Incisa who cultivated vines in Bolgheri in the 19th century, the wine is conceived differently from Sassicaia but shaped by the same soil and climate.
Introduced in 2002, Le Difese is an IGT Toscana companion wine to Guidalberto, sharing Sassicaia’s pedigree but highlighting different aspects of the winery.