Wine Star: Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta

Tenuta San Guido's next-generation leader shares a taste of Sassicaia, the super Tuscan that revolutionized Bolgheri
Wine Star: Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta
Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta explained how her grandfather's home winemaking project shook the wine world. (Rick Wenner)
Oct 22, 2018

Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta travels the world representing one of the most prominent names in Italian wine—a wine that is more than the sum of its parts, synonymous with the birth of a world-class region.

Incisa della Rocchetta brought magnums of the Cabernet Sauvignon–dominated Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2006 (94 points, $215/750ml on release) to share along with the history of the wine. "It's a wine which is a very classic Sassicaia," she said. "It's structured, but at the same time very elegant. It really is a very, very good interpretation of the territory of Bolgheri, and for us, the territory is the main player in the success of this wine."

It goes both ways: Sassicaia is also key to the success of Bolgheri. In the 1940s, Incisa della Rocchetta's grandfather, Mario, began experimenting with Bordeaux varieties after moving to Bolgheri from outside of Rome. The wines were unlike the Sangioveses and Trebbianos that the locals were used to, and many were skeptical of the Piedmont native's new style. Nevertheless, Mario continued making his wines from Cabernet Franc, sharing his creations with family and friends.

About 20 years later, Incisa della Rocchetta's father, Nicoló, joined his father, Mario, and convinced him to release Sassicaia commercially. "My grandfather was very much against it," Incisa della Rocchetta said. "He didn't want to share his baby wine with anybody else."

Finally, in 1968, Tenuta San Guido produced the first commercial vintage of Sassicaia. With some help from nephew Piero Antinori and his enologist, Giacomo Tachis, along with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend, it wasn’t long until the world took notice. In 1994, the wine was recognized for bringing attention and credibility to the region with the creation of the Bolgheri-Sassicaia DOC.

While Priscilla was the star on stage, the Tenuta San Guido co-owner emphasized that her father and grandfather made the company what it is: "I am very proud to take the merits today, but it's actually them that we should thank."

Read more about Bolgheri, and Sassicaia's role in its success, in "Tuscany's Napa," in Wine Spectator's April 30, 2018, issue.

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