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Unveiling the Treasures of Bolgheri with Podere Sapaio

Bolgheri, a central Italian village and hamlet of Castagneto Carducci, located in the province of Livorno, Tuscany, is known for producing some of Italy’s finest and most prestigious wines. The Bolgheri region’s unique terroir, which includes a combination of favorable climate, soil, and proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea, contributes to the production of these exceptional wines. The Bolgheri area gained international recognition for its high-quality wines, specifically, their Super Tuscan wines, which are a blend of traditional Italian grape varieties, such as Sangiovese, with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and/or Syrah.The region’s wines are often marked by their rich flavors, deep complexity, and ability to age gracefully.

A hamlet in the municipality of Castagneto Carducci, Italy

Some of the renowned names from Bolgheri include Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia), Tenuta dell’Ornellaia (Ornellaia) Grattamacco and Le Macchiole. However, these are not the only notable wines coming from Bolgheri. There are many more gems yet to be unveiled, like Podere Sapaio

Podere Sapaio is on the Eutruscan Coast, located between the municipalities of Castagneto Carducci and Bibbona in the Tuscan province of Livorno. The winery was founded in 1999, and in 2004, Massino Piccin’s (owner) first two Bolgherian wines (Sapaio and Volpolo) were produced. Podere Sapaio spans over 40 hectares of land, with 25 being allocated to vineyards. Although there is an extraordinary variety of soils (27 in total), the majority of the soil is composed of a sand and clay mix, along with limestone and pebbles of marine origin, as the area was originally swamp and marshland. The variety of soils yield wines with great complexity. In fact, the vineyard’s soils are exclusively suited to yielding their Bordeaux blend of grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot vines. As Piccin’s vision involves “harmonious synergy between man and the environment,” the winery practices ethical, organic and sustainable viticulture. Their philosophy regarding care and defense of plants is based on respect and prevention.

I had the pleasure of meeting Massino Piccin, the visionary of Podere Sapaio and tasting some of his Bolgherese treasures. However, when I heard him speak about his wines, produced where ‘vineyards meet the sea,’ his words were poetic and his passion was truly heartwarming. He spoke a lot about the distinctive terroir and the influence of the Tyrrhenian Sea and how the winery has evolved, in line with its territory, over time. 

“We taste the earth, we listen to its signs, and we bring to the surface the essence that is at the root. Time is our most precious resource.”

The guided tasting offered more in-depth insights into the Bolgheri terroir, the winemaking techniques and the story behind the wine labels. Today, thanks to the strategic collaboration with the renowned Italian winemaker, Carlo Ferrini, Podere Sapaio is one of Italy’ cult wineries. It is very easy to see why. Here’s what we tasted: 

Volpolo Bolgheri DOC 2021

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Petit Verdot. Aromatic with ripe dark fruit. This wine is already balanced and is elegant on the palate. The 2021 vintage reflects the ideal weather conditions. Great balance of fruit and acidity. This wine is young and drinkable now, yet it has a lot of life ahead.  

Volpolo Bolgheri DOC 2016

Same blend as the 2021-70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Petit Verdot. Deep bordeaux red in the glass. Dark berries. Powerful, rich and bold. This wine demonstrates good tannic structure, yet it also has some balsamic notes.

Sapaio Toscana IGT 2020

I really enjoyed this wine. It was a privilege to taste, as this wine had not yet been released in the U.S. Sapaio is fruit forward, yet not overly fruity. It’s vibrant, with fresh acidity and the salinity provides evidence of the sea nearby. Good balance of fruit and minerality. Long finish.  

Sapaio Toscana IGT 2019

Ok, I confess. This was my favorite. Lovely nose. Supple, round palate. Very ripe tannins. While this wine is not as fruity as the younger one, it’s very well-balanced and drinkable now.  Great complexity. This wine is perfect for any lover of Bordeaux or Super Tuscans.

Sapaio Toscana IGT 2015

This vintage was lovely too. Buonissimo! Tannic, a good pensive wine to think about life and ponder things. Very good to pair with food. It shows good evolution over time.

Sapaio Toscana IGT 2008

Herbaceous nose, with balsamic notes, yet a little different on the palate. More complex, with layers of aromas and flavors. 

Light bounces off the water of the Tyrrhenian Sea and is diffused among the vines, reflecting, and mitigating temperatures. It is the sea breeze that recounts the story of this terroir, which was originally a swamp, and which today makes up the Bolgherese Amphitheatre.

Massino Piccin

These Bolgheri beauties were paired with a delicious lunch by L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. The lunch included salad, meatballs, Arancini, Pizza, Maccheroni Bolognese and Pappardelle Genovese. Outstanding. 

Wines from Bolgheri are highly regarded for their exceptional quality and are often considered among the finest wines not only in Italy but also worldwide. Podere Sapaio is, indeed, a producer of beautiful Super Tuscan treasures that brings pleasure!

Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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