Wine Dharma

Bolgheri DOC: all you need to know about the famous wines of the Tuscan coast based on Bordeaux varieties

Vineyards in Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci, production area Bolgheri rosso DO Speaking of Bolgheri wines and the relative DOC presupposes a small story of history because although it is a young area born only with the first steps of Sassicaia, it has seen many protagonists of Italian enology come into play, creating a series of lucky events.

Needless to say, it all started with Sassicaia, when in 1944 the Marquis Incisa Rocchetta planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc vine shoots in Castiglioncello di Bolgheri, after noticing the amazing similarity of soils and microclimate between the coastal strip between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci and Graves. Notice the two names: Sassicaia and Graves, already etymologically full of “pebbles” and stony.

After years of private consumption and darkness, Sassicaia established itself as a great Bordeaux-style wine, but what is important to note is that it was the first wine that dared and became the icon of Italian wine. We do not discuss the pleasure-love-hate-envy that surround Sassicaia, but it is undeniable that it has revolutionized the world of Italian wine, has prodded it and opened up new trade routes, especially with the United States. Not to mention the flourishing of new epigones such as the Masseto and the wines of Grattamacco that by now “wannabe Sass” have managed to find their own identity. The fact is that all the realities, like Bellavista, Gaja, Antinori and Ricasoli and so on.

So Sassicaia and all Bolgheri are nothing more than a slavish emulation of the famous Bordeaux wines? Have they replicated the happy recipe of maritime wine, is it really only the sea that makes wine great?

In reality, it is not at all like this, the human factor comes into play, the terroir once again. Certainly the basics, that is the conditions and the vines most used in the Bordeaux are those, but radically changes the interpretation, the sensitivity and also the climate. If the Bolgheri DOC wines are indeed intense, very sumptuous, fruity, rich in extract, powerful and that they need long aging in barrels, it is also true that there is a unique balsamic trace, the memory of the Mediterranean scrub, a particular reminder that makes Bolgheri wines unique and unrepeatable. And we are only at the beginning: the vines are relatively young and it is only with the new plants that a denser density of vines is preferred: in short, the beauty is still to come.

So do not be too snobbish, especially among many “so-called experts” Bolgheri wines are considered to be not very fine products, too muscular and too expansive, not typical, not autochthonous, as if by now they should cultivate only autochthonous … Certainly, they are not the maximum originality, but it is because the artisan winemakers of the area still have a long way to go, they experiment and no one forces you to buy approved wine from the most commercial wineries that they want to sell in the United States.

Aging and vines used to produce Bolgheri DOC and Superiore wines

The main vines used are the mighty Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which can be single-variety or blended. Another significant grape, allowed up to 50%, is Syrah which certainly shows its most interesting and peppery aromatic sides in this area. And then we close with the used Petit Verdot up to a maximum of 30% and the Sangiovese used up to a maximum of 50%, but that struggles and does not present particular vitality.

The Bolgheri DOC must refine a year; the Bolgheri Superiore DOC at least two years, one of which is in wood.

The Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC is a blend in which at least 80% of Cabernet Sauvignon must be present and rests for at least 2 years, of which 18 months in barrique.

Organoleptic characteristics

It is difficult to average, the vines are many and follow the blend with abysmal differences between Cabernet and Merlot. What is unmistakable and recognized is the richness, the opulence of these wines, they are dense and full nectars, full of scents of berries, ethereal and very structured. Apart from the basic Beverini based wines, they are full-bodied wines that must mature for years to find an excellent balance, dispose of the wood toasting and develop tertiary aromas and elegance. The tendency is to push on the pumped fruit, to put the muscles on display to wink at the markets of the States, but not all producers seek a style so exasperated by luck and aim more on drinkability and a bit of natural drinkability. Setta, Motta and Chiappini are producers who deserve a taste.

In any case, do not rush, do not uncork a Sassicaia 2016 for your grills under the umbrella. We leave you with an emblematic taste made long ago by a Guado al Tasso 2008 that astonished us, the wine had charm and depth and that tannic fiery and fruity arrogance had given way to an evolved and sinuous symphony, but we are talking about wine of 11 years.

The white Bolgheri DOC is much more traditional, the main grape is Vermentino, which already dominates the whole coast, to which are added small balances of Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier.

Red Bolgheri wine food pairings

Bolgheri wine guide all you need to know about Bolgheri wines Cabernet Sauvignon These wines are intense, tannic, powerful and require succulent, tasty and equally demanding dishes: t-bone steak, smoked beef ribs, pasta casserole, lamb and meat pie.

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