After settling with his wife, Clarice, into their Tuscan estate at Tenuta San Guido on the Mediterranean Coast, he experimented with several French grape varieties and concluded, â€œthe bouquet I was looking forâ€ was found in the Cabernet.
A wine that had Cabernet Sauvignon as its primary component represented a radical shift from the traditional Tuscan and Piedmontese varietals of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. No one had ever considered making a wine crafted along Bordeaux lines on Italian soil, much less in a region not yet established viticulturally. In addition to the Cabernetâ€™s satisfactory bouquet, the Marquisâ€™ decision to plant this grape variety at Tenuta San Guido was influenced by the Tuscan locationâ€™s similarity to Graves in Bordeaux. â€œGravesâ€ means â€œgravelâ€ in French, and similarly, the earth at Tenuta San Guido gave Sassicaia its name, which in the Tuscan dialect means â€œstony groundâ€.
However, accustomed to the light, local wines, consumers did not respond well to the first vintages of Sassicaia. Wines made from the more complex Cabernet Sauvignon grapes take more time to mature and develop. Subsequently, from 1948 to 1960, Sassicaia was consumed only at the estate. Each year, a small number of cases were laid down in the cellars of Castiglioncello. The Marquis discovered that as the years went by, however, the wine greatly improved. As is often the case with wines of great pedigree, those things originally considered defects turned into virtues over time. Soon, friends and relatives were urging him to pursue his passion and to perfect his revolutionary style of winemaking.
In 1965, he planted two more vineyards comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; the new â€œSassicaiaâ€ vineyard was situated approximately 800 feet lower than the original Cabernet vineyard near Castiglioncello, and â€œAianovaâ€ was slightly more elevated and thus exposed to the weather. Eventually, all of the wine produced on the estate came to be known by the name of Sassicaia.
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