Illustration by Colin Elgie
Located on the Tuscan coast in the province of Livorno, the picture-perfect village of Bolgheri, dominated by its iconic cypress-lined avenue, now turns out some of Italy’s most celebrated wines. But it once seemed an unlikely place to birth Italy’s 20th-century quality-wine revolution.
Up until the mid-1900s, when its marshes were drained, Bolgheri was a malaria-infested backwater. Then, with no tradition of quality wine production, it became home to insipid whites and lackluster rosatos for decades. That reputation changed almost overnight in 1971 with the first release of Sassicaia, proof that Bolgheri’s microclimate and soils were ideal for red wines made from Bordeaux grapes.