The current appellation rules, soon to be modified, provide for the presence in the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon up to 80%, Merlot to 70%, and Sangiovese to 70%. This frame work does not offer the possibility of defining one single style for the wines of Bolgheri.
As the regulations which govern the use of individual grape varieties demonstrate, the wines are generally based on a blend of Cabernet (both Sauvignon and Franc) and Merlot, often accompanied by Syrah and Petit Verdot. But there are also Sangiovese-based blends, and even pure Sangiovese wines as well.
In truth, we are always dealing with intense red wines with a dark ruby, often impenetrable, color and with a very important aging ability. The aromas are characterized by black berry fruit, ripe and sweet, at times with the balsamic notes of Mediterranean brush and with a regularly well calculated hint of oak spices. On the palate there is a striking suppleness and softness, the sweetness of the fruit, perceptible on the mid-palate, is always freshened and given vibrancy by a tonic acidity, by a ripe, dense tannic texture, and by a finish of excellent length. Even when the structure is a powerful one, the wines, for this reason, are always balanced and harmonious.
The ideal style, nonetheless, can always be sought in the line, the tradition, established by Sassicaia and the grand, historic “Bolgheri Superiore” wines, i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Cabernet Franc or Merlot and, in certain cases, lesser percentages of Petit Verdot and Syrah. The ability of this territory to express outstanding varietal wines, however, should not be overlooked, wines which have acquired world-wide fame such as Masseto and Messorio (Merlot 100%), Paleo (Cabernet Franc 100%) and other new offerings which confirm, in equally strong terms, the potential of this type of wine. The quality characteristics described above find their maximum expression in these wines, and it is for this reason that the new appellation production rules, now in the process of being approved, are intended to permit the production of certain types of pure varietal wines with the Bolgheri appellation name.
Just below the level of Bolgheri Sassicaia, Bolgheri Superiore, and the great IGT wines we find Bolgheri Rosso. These are wines which give exceptional drinking pleasure – wines which are soft, elegant, and ripe in character, less demanding and ambitious compared t to the “Superiore” category, but always capable of accompanying, with much pleasure, flavourful dishes of red meat and game.
It is important to note that a good part of the Bolgheri vineyards are still relatively young. This means that the quality level of the current production can only continue to improve over time with greater vine age. It is for this reason that the international wine press unanimously maintains that Bolgheri has a “giant” potential yet to express.
Rosé wines have a well rooted tradition in the area since the 1970’s when the Antinori production of “Rosé di Bolgheri” was quite well known. The most widely utilized grapes are Sangiovese and Malvasia Nera, but Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah are used as well and give fresh, fruity, and savory rosés, perfectly adapted to numerous dishes of the cuisine of the Tuscan coast.
Vermentino is the white grape and white wine of preference for many Bolgheri producers. It is usually fermetned on its own, but can be utilized in blends with Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The style is one of a fresh and fragrant white wine fermented in stainless steel tanks, ideal for drinking with tasty Mediterranean fish dishes. There are some examples of Vermentino and of Viognier harvested when very ripe and fermented in small oak barrels. The style is more complex and demanding, but goes very well with more elaborate fish dishes and even with plates of white meat or of fowl.