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Bolgheri is a small village with a big reputation. It is located five miles inland from the coast of the Mediterranean in Tuscany, well to the west of the classic wine regions surrounding Florence and Siena. The modern history of the area as a wine region only dates to the 1940s when Marchese Mario Incisa decided to plant Cabernet Sauvignon on his local estate. This was a fairly novel idea in that the area had only been known for rustic Sangiovese and Trebbiano. The next vineyard, planted in the 1960s, was known as Sassicaia and by the 1970s Sassicaia had achieved international fame, created a new category of Tuscan wine, and put Bolgheri on the map.

The first "Super Tuscan" was Sassicaia, although the term was not in use at the time. This wine appeared commercially in 1968, even though the original vineyards were planted as early as 1944. Sassicaia caused a stir as a non-traditional blend of the French grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The vineyards are planted on slopes that are only four and a half miles from the sea. Thus, Sassicaia benefits from a true maritime climate that has given it great consistency from vintage to vintage. Many others have followed Sassicaia's lead and Bolgheri has become one of the hottest areas for viticultural investment in all of Italy. Even Piedmont's favorite native son, Angelo Gaja, has gotten into the act with the purchase of the Ca Marcanda estate.

Today, Bolgheri has its own DOC covering 2,500 acres of vineyards that produce 375,000 cases per year. The reds are based on the main Bordeaux varietals and may incorporate a maximum of 50% Sangiovese or Syrah. Whites are also produced, less frequently, from various combinations of Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, and Trebbiano. In 2013, Sassicaia itself was awarded its own single estate DOCG; a first for Italy and a fitting tribute to the man who did much to pioneer a new era in Tuscany as a whole. (Wine/Appellations)