In 1942, the Baron Mario Incisca della Roccehetta planted the first vines in Bolgheri because he cherished the wine from Bordeaux and didn't know how long the war was going to last. It did take until the seventies, however, before his Sassicai was marketed commercially. At the latest Since the American wine critic Robert Parker gave the 1985 vintage Sassicaia the maximum rating of 100 points in his publication 'Wine Advocate', it has been considered a treasured and fashionable wine. Its price multiplied, and Bolgheri became a region which then was under observation by wine enthusiasts from all over the world.
Therefore Bolgheri isn't a traditional, old growing-region. One only can say that the typical Bolgheri grape varieties are identical with those of Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot). It also shows similar aromas, although it is slightly softer and has sweeter tannins, which is proof of its Tuscany origin. Since many wine estates of Bolgheri are still rather young, the vines have yet to grow to an age enabling them to show their full potential. Also, there is still a lot of experimenting going on - there is a growing variety of different Cuvées. As a result, it should be rather difficult to detect a Bolgheri on a blind degustation, its appearances are far too multifaceted at the moment.
The climates of the DOC region Bolgheri mainly spread out between Bolgheri and its southern neighbouring village Castagneto Carducci, situated picturesquely on a hill. The small village gave itself the add-on "Carducci" in honour of the writer Giosue Carducci. He immortalised the cypress avenue leading to Bolgheri in his famous poem "Davanti San Guido" and was the first Italian to be awarded the Nobel prize of literature in 1906.
Around Bolgheri there is plenty of forest, truly primeval forest. A large population of wild boars inhabits the region, and they are often found on the local menus. The animals, in return, enjoy feeding on the grapes, which has caused some of the wine makers to install automatic shooting devices in their vineyards which go off with loud bangs but no bullets. The wild boars aren't particularly impressed by them - so it's just some extra noise during mealtime!
In Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci there are good wine shops which stock almost the entire selection of Bolgheri wines and which are a good starting point for a first quick overview. Recommendable shops are, for instance, the Enoteca da Rossano, Piazza Albero 3, Bolgheri, and the Enoteca Tognoni, Via Lauretta 5, Bolgheri, where one can also enjoy a good meal. The book "Vini di Bolgheri" by Edoardo Scalzini, published in April 2007, presents wine makers and wine estates of the region, and features the addresses of the wine estates. The Consorzio Strada del Vino Costa degli Etruschi, situated directly at the famous cypress avenue in San Guido, provides visitors with information and material. Some wine estates run shops with regular business hours. Generally, however, it is recommendable to make an appointment in advance. At famous domains, private visitors sometimes are charged a degustating fee.
It is an interesting, though not inexpensive, task every year to compare the two most famous wines of the region, which are not only agnate by name. Whether it's the Sassicaia by San Guido or the Ornellaia of the Tenuta dell'Ornellaia to win the laurel is a matter of taste. The Ornellaia is perhaps the more feminine and more delicate of the two, whereas the Sassicaia is more closed in its youth and takes longer until it shows its real splendour.
In Bolgheri the year 2004 was very good - it's worthwhile looking for those, and some of them are already sold out in Bolgheri. These successful 2004 are very delicate, well-balanced and complex. The wine makers expect a similar top year for the 2006. The 2005 though overshadowed by its neighbouring years, is definitely not a poorer vintage. It's usually somewhat more grainy and simpler than the 2004, but despite of that consistently successful. The 2003 from a hot summer tend to be slightly too alcoholic, and they lack acidity, which may let them appear clumsy and boiled down. All throughout Tuscany the 2002 is regarded to be one of the poorest vintage in a long time. Nevertheless, some pleasant surprises are to be encountered among the low-priced and simpler wines, because the wine estates had only produced a reduced selection of their top wines that year, and the grapes were used for the second rated ones.
Ten years ago, there were just about ten wine estates in Bolgheri. Today there are more than forty. Therefore this report can only gives an overview and can't possibly mention all good Bolgheri producers. The potential of the region also attracts famous non-resident wine makers. Some years ago the Piedmont Angelo Gaja founded his Bolgheri wine estate Ca'Marcanda. Bolgheri's surrounding area is becoming more and more interesting, too. Lodovico Antinori sold his estate Ornellaia and now, together with his brother Piero, takes care of the joint venture Campo di Sasso in the neighbouring community of Bibona.
Prices: In August 2007, a simple Bolghari is sold for around 10 Euro. The top class wines of the wine estates are between 30 and 120 Euro. For instance, the latest Sassicaia vintage is 120 Euro, the Ornellaia 100 Euro, the Grattamacco 45 Euro in Bolghari. Prices increase gravely for older bottles.