Interview: Marchese Nicolo Incisa Della Rocchetta

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  • Tuesday 14 August 2012

With Decanter's Great Winemakers of Italy tasting event coming up on 20 September, we spoke to Nicolo Incisa della Rocchetta, the current President of Tenuta San Guido (makers of Sassicaia), one of the top wine producers in Italy and whose wines will be available to taste during the event.

Marchese Nicolo Incisa Della Rocchetta

What does it mean to you to be part of the Grandi Marchi Institute and one of Italy’s most premium wine brands?
The promotion of quality wines has to be praised. We are proud to be part of an important organisation like Istituto Grandi Marchi which groups together the finest Italian labels. It would be a mistake to think to have reached a point where you do not need promotion or visibility in the international market. The IGM works perfectly, the group is entirely managed by wine producers without external influences that might often have different goals.

Can you explain a little about what you do with the Institute?

I ensure the presence of our wines for the events but, honestly, I do little personally. The biggest thanks go mainly to the producers who put the maximum effort in the interest of the international wine scene, my cousin Piero Antinori is an example.

Part of being in the Institute is to promote Italian wine around the world - how do you do this?
That’s a personal choice: I think it’s important to make people understand a winery through the seriousness, the constancy and the quality of the products which are a guarantee. A brand rises to fame thanks to its tradition, its history and especially thanks to its philosophy, which remains intact over the time respecting the style and the inclinations of its owner.

What image do you think Italian wine has around the world? And how has this changed or is changing for the future?
I think the image of Italian wine has changed radically and positively in the last 30 years, the wine is no longer a low cost and low quality drink as it was in the 70's. Thanks to the investments of Italian entrepreneurs who, with patience and tenacity, have had faith in the potential of their territory, today the concept of Italian terroir is well known all around the world. I see a very positive future for Italian wine, the excellence of our territories and our efforts are placing Italian wine on a scene which is not only European but international.

The institute is also concerned with educating people about Italian wine - what are the main things you would like people to know about Italian wine and Italian wine culture?
The consumers are paying more and more attention to the identity, to the history and to the provenance of the wine they drink. When you buy a bottle of wine you buy a part of its philosophy, of its history, of its native territory, of its culture: all that is behind the label and you have to feel it in the glass.

What does the term Super Tuscan mean to you? How would you describe it for people who may never heard of the term?
I don’t like the term “Super Tuscans”, which was created around the 90’s by the American press. I think it is an improper and incomplete description of Tuscan wines made ​​with new blends (international grapes based), different from the traditional ones. These wines represent a marriage between tradition and innovation and are the result of the evolution of the Tuscan viticulture. I would say that in any case “Super Tuscan” have been vital for the success of Italian wine on the international scene.

Talking specifically about your own winery Sassicaia, do you have a wine philosophy in terms of what you want your wines to taste like?

Sassicaia comes from my father Mario Incisa's passion for wine, it is made in the vineyards and reflects just the terroir since the first vintage, 1968. Our philosophy today is still the same. We decided, with humility, to put the wine on the market, both national and international, to let people know our territory and our aspirations.

How do you combine traditional winemaking with new technological advances?
We have a cautious approach to new technologies: to maintain our personality over the time we don’t want to change our production process. Attention and care towards the environment is always a duty, it’s a synonym of the civilisation of a people and of the protection of public health. For 15 years we haven't used chemicals or invasive products, but just products that don’t cause damage to the environment and which do not alter the nature.

Do you feel any pressure to maintain the premium aspect to your wines?
We must never lower our guard, we rather have to be careful about what we produce and what the market is able to receive

Do you focus more on your role in the vineyard or what you do in the winery?
The most important step takes place in the vineyard: the nature has the bigger role in the production of wine

Are you looking forward to the Decanter Great Winemakers of Italy event in September?
I will not able to attend the next event in London and I’m really sorry, it’s one of the most important events our company take part in.

Which wines will you be providing for people to taste?
We will pour all our three labels (Le Difese, Guidalberto and Sassicaia) and we will present, together with the more recent, also an old vintage of Sassicaia.

What do you hope that people who attend the event come away thinking?

The English people have always payed a big attention to the wine, I expect a good turnout with enthusiastic and expert consumers. I’m sure they’ll feel the terroir of Bolgheri in the glass.

Do you like meeting consumers and interacting with them about your wines?
Yes I do. I find it funny and I think it's necessary to see if we are going in the right direction. We must never forget that our first interlocutor is the consumer.

Lastly, in your opinion, what do you think is the most interesting thing about Italian wine?
Our territory, characterised by different types of soils, and our climate... it's so various. We are really fortunate to have many different wine regions with their own unique identity.

To find out more information and to book tickets to Decanter's Great Winemakers of Italy trade and consumer tasting events on 20 September click here.

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