Allegrini 2018

Bolgheri, land of wine pioneers and enological freedom, celebrates the past and looks to the future

For the 25 years of the DOC, the vision of the “autochthonous” and adopted producers, who plan the future of the “Bordeaux of Italy”

Bolgheri, land of wine pioneers, who from nothing have created a territory that today is one of the most important, and land of enological freedom to research, invent, express (and study the territory) through the three most famous grape varieties in the world, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, used “at will”, in blends or in purity, able to express territoriality and typicalness. Land where the many producers of today, more than 50, “native” or arrived from other territories of Italy and of the World, recognize, something rare in the world of wine, the leadership and merits of those who invented the Bolgheri of wine, and its founding fathers, from Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta with Sassicaia, at first almost solo, and then with Pier Mario Meletti Cavallari, Michele Satta, Lodovico Antinori and Piero Antinori, and they are aware that there is still much to do, and that there is still a story to write, made up of continuous research into quality, in wine as well as in hospitality, potentially even more straight and long than the wonderful Viale dei Cipressi, which was made immortal by the verses of Carducci (“I cipressi che a Bolgheri alti e schietti van da San Guido in duplice filar, quasi in corsa giganti giovinetti mi balzarono incontro e mi guardar”), has become a symbol of the territory and of the Consortium. In short, this is the thought that emerged from today's debate at Castagneto Carducci, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Bolgheri DOC, which arrived in 1994.

The first part of a journey that, as everyone acknowledges, began with Sassicaia and its first vintage, released in 1968, as a table wine, of Tenuta San Guido.

“Tenuta San Guido is a family brand, a brand of my father and of us as cousins - said Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta - and asking if Sassicaia needs Bolgheri, is like saying if it was born first the egg or the chicken. Sassicaia has had a success that would not be what it is without Bolgheri territory. The fact that grandfather Mario had this vision, this ambition to cultivate here a different kind of vine to make a different wine from what was done at the time (the first vineyard was planted in 1944, ed), was a coincidence, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, at the time was also mocked, but he was stubborn, and fortunately he continued. Then the family relationship with Antinori helped us to create the new project, to make Sassicaia a wine for the public, from wine “for the family that it was”, and without the territory, it would not have been possible. In fact, we have always wanted to give back to the territory what it has given us, a large part of our company is a wildlife refuge. There is a great synergy with all the members of the Consortium. Maybe at the beginning, we helped the territory, but without the territory - says Priscilla - we would not be who we are. And when I go around the world to tell the story of Sassicaia, I always tell about Bolgheri”.

In 1994, then came the DOC, and in “25 years everything has changed - explains Michele Satta - Bolgheri is part of the epoch-making change between the wine-food and wine messenger of a lifestyle that travels in the world. Today we celebrate 25 years of Doc, but here the story is longer. 25 years for wine is like the first tooth for a child, we are at the beginning, we begin today to understand the land, we are at the gates of a new era. Wine is a product that carries emotion, it is an enormous act of communication, and we are experiencing an epoch-making change, but with great positivity”.

But Bolgheri, perhaps more than other Italian territories, is the mix of great brands, territories and Denominations. “The history is always the same: first the companies are created, then the denominations - explained Giovanni Geddes, head of two realities such as Ornellaia and Masseto - it was like this in Bordeaux, and in many other territories. Companies and farmers are the ones who start, then the Doc is created to give a framework of management, and for communication. Today with the DOC we begin to make a communication that as a territory has not yet been made. Here there are enormous opportunities: there are known vines, but they give wines that are very different from Bordeaux, wines that can be drunk immediately and with simplicity, but that are also able to age a lot. The taste of world consumption, then, is made with these vines. In Asia, 50% is France, 95% of this is Bordeaux, and the great American wines of the last 30 years were born from the same vines. The ease of understanding that Bolgheri can have, thanks to the knowledge of these vines - explains Geddes - is a great opportunity. And here a new “Napa Valley” can be created, since it was born many years ago with only one hotel, and today it is one of the main wine tourism destinations in the world, and it generates an incredible economy. Here you can do the same”.
As Martina Chiappini explained, the Chiappini winery, for example, has placed a strong bet on wine tourism and hospitality, “in an area that is excellent thanks to the great legacy left by those who came before us”, but great prospects for the area are also linked to the diversity of its land. This is a reality that the Antinori family, with Guado al Tasso, one of the largest realities in Bolgheri, knows well. “We have plots in different areas - explains Albiera Antinori - in recent years we have experimented and made many analyses to understand which varieties can be best suited to clays, sands, different soils. There is a lot of difference between north and south, east and west. It is an important analysis, which must be pursued, because it could reserve us many beautiful surprises. Having had a regulation that allows great freedom is a pioneering spirit, it is an invitation to continue to experiment. The vineyards here are young, yet. There will be fun with more and more typical wines, perhaps even monovarietal, as long as you always work on the great and absolute quality.

Today's celebrations are important, in one generation, a small Italian miracle has happened, started by chance, developed without too many tears and bumps, without specific purposes, in a heterogeneous way, Bolgheri has become a name that has a long way to go, but that is already known throughout the world. It's a little miracle of Made in Italy in a beautiful area, and we must be happy with what has been done, thanks to everyone. It doesn't happen often, we are in many denominations, where a lot of time is wasted discussing what it was and had been, and never about the present and what it will do, so we must toast and applaud the wines of Bolgheri”.

Among the many great Italian producers who have invested in Bolgheri, there is also the Allegrini family, the historical name of Valpolicella, who owns Poggio al Tesoro in this piece of land enclosed between the hills and the sea.

“One of the greatest riches of this territory is its great human capital. I came here with my brother Walter - says Marilisa Allegrini - and we fell in love with Bolgheri. Then in 2003 he passed away, and I found myself managing this dream alone, but here I found fantastic people, who are responsible for the success of the things we do, and I am grateful to them. Here the landscape is fantastic: Viale dei Cipressi, via Bolgherese, the woods ... But we must not take anything for granted. There must be an increasingly strong public-private relationship, to maintain the integrity of this territory, which is unique. And we must do something for young people, all of us producers together, even by investing money, such as an academy or a similar project, that teaches young people the craftsmanship they need to grow the territory”.

Among the great names of Italian wine that have recently arrived in Bolgheri, there is Feudi di San Gregorio, an Irpinian winery managed by Antonio Capaldo, with Campo alle Comete.
“I fell in love with Bolgheri, first of all for its beautiful light - he explains - then for the freedom allowed by the regulations, the vineyards, and then for the people who are here. We arrived last, and being able to benefit from the work of those who have built such a strong denomination, starting from the company brands that have made it great, to the Consortium, is a great opportunity”.

And if Bolgheri is an area linked to the Bordeaux blend, today many people rely on monovarietal wines, as someone has already done for a long time, as the winery Le Macchiole, told Cinzia Merli.

“In 2011, all of us producers decided to change the regulations, and to include the possibility of putting under DOC also monovarietal wines - remembers Federico Zileri, president of the Consortium and leader of the Tenuta Argentiera - and also thanks to the Region of Tuscany that in this process has supported us, now we have three varieties that can be used from 0 to 100%. This great freedom is fundamental: we believe in it, and I see a bright future, because the example of those who started, and today it is at the top of the world, is the example for all of us. Bolgheri is a case, not a strategy: it is a passion, commitment, we all know that, and we must move forward as now, even if we are 56 and no longer 7. We also thank, among others, the local workers, but also the large communities that are on the territory, people who come from Senegal and Morocco, without which it would be impossible for us to maintain the territory as we do today”.

From these shared awareness, and from these visions, starts the tomorrow of Bolgheri, today a true “wine blue chip” of Tuscan wine, the only denomination, from the data seen by WineNews, among the greats of Tuscany, to see its sales increase, with a jump of +16% in the first 7 months of 2019 on 2018, yet another sign of health of a territory that today is among the most prestigious in the world, and among the most valuable in Italy - from 400,000 to 500,000 euros per hectare the estimated market value - but also among the most cohesive and dynamic.

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