Poggio Al Tesoro and Bolgheri’s Vinous Odyssey.
In the sun-kissed embrace of Tuscany, where rolling hills meet the Tyrrhenian Sea, lies the captivating Bolgheri region—a place where the winds whisper secrets of vines and the soil tells tales of transformation. At the heart of this vinous odyssey stands Poggio Al Tesoro, a winery that has charted a remarkable course from tradition to innovation, embodying the essence of Bolgheri’s evolving winemaking legacy.
A Glimpse into Bolgheri’s Past
Bolgheri, a region with a winemaking history that dates back centuries, once had a focus on producing Sangiovese based rose wines. However, Marquise Mario Incisa della Rocchetta was the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Castiglioncello di Bolgheri, taking a different route. He recognized the untapped potential of the region, and was followed by other producers. They boldly deviated from Tuscan traditions, opting to cultivate Bordeaux grape varieties instead. This audacious move led to much debate, but as history would have it, their determination bore fruit.
The turning point for Bolgheri came in 1968 with the release of Sassicaia, a wine that would change the region’s fortunes forever. The resounding success of Sassicaia paved the way for wine producers from the North of Italy, that came in around 1977. With the growing changes and changing spirit Bolgheri attained its DOC status in 1994, securing its position as a world-class wine region.
The Allegrini Family Legacy
Poggio Al Tesoro is a crown jewel in Bolgheri’s vinous landscape, owned by Marilisa Allegrini and her daughters Carlotta and Caterina, who are part of the esteemed Allegrini family. Hailing from the Valpolicella region, Giovanni Allegrini, the family patriarch, achieved remarkable success and was hailed as one of Valpolicella’s most significant figures. Following his passing in 1983, his children inherited the reins of the family business. Marilisa Allegrini, now the CEO of the Allegrini group, along with her brothers, continued to build upon their father’s legacy. Today, her daughters, Carlotta and Caterina, join her in shaping the future of Poggio Al Tesoro and the family’s other Tuscan estate, San Polo in Montalcino.
In 2001, Marilisa and Walter Allegrini embarked on a quest for something extraordinary and fell in love with the Bolgheri region. The first purchase took place in 2001, consisting of 11 hectares which extend along the Strada delle Sondraie up to the Fossa Camilla. Enchanted by the Strada Bolgherese, and mostly by the great variety of soils compared to the clayey ones of the Sondraie, Walter and Marilisa bought a beautiful 7-hectare farm on which the evocative little church of San Giuseppe stands.
The third purchase was another 7-hectare plot 100 metres away, called Via Bolgherese: a 3.5-hectare vineyard planted in 1994 with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. An already planted plot would allow them to move production times forward and, most importantly, to carefully study soil differentiations to allocate clones and the most suitable varietals for each terrain. However, this was not enough. Some small-scale farmers around Sondraie decided to divest their properties and sell them to the Allegrini family. And so, in just a short amount of time, a prime estate came together.
In 2004 Poggio Al Tesoro introduced a Vermentino clone from Corsica to their vineyards, further diversifying their portfolio. Furthermore in 2005 the first vintages of the iconic wines ‘Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore’ and ‘Poggio Al Tesoro Dedicato a Walter’ came to market. The latter is a special wine, dedicated to Walter Allegrini, who passed away in 2003. This red monocepage centers around Cabernet Franc.
And so, in just a short amount of time, a prime estate came together.
Two Decades of Excellence
Poggio Al Tesoro’s journey to crafting exceptional wines has been marked by a relentless commitment to quality and sustainability. Over the years, they have implemented stringent quality standards, ensuring that their wines not only maintain the highest quality but also adhere to sustainable practices. Today, two decades since acquiring their first hectares, Poggio Al Tesoro proudly holds the ‘Equalitas‘ certification and boasts ownership of 64 hectares of land, of which 30 hectares of vineyards, throughout Bolgheri. Equalitas is a certification that goes beyond the fact of being organic, it also embraces how Poggio Al Tesoro treats their staff, suppliers and how much carbon foot print they use. The certification truly displays sustainability at 360° degrees.
A Symphony of Terroir
One of the distinguishing features of Poggio Al Tesoro is the family’s ownership of plots in four distinct parts of Bolgheri. This unique advantage allows them to select grape varieties that best match the individual soils and microclimates of each vineyard. It is a symphony of terroir, where Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Vermentino thrive in their respective habitats, producing wines that showcase the essence of Bolgheri’s diverse terroir.
Poggio Al Tesoro stands as a testament to the Allegrini family’s dedication to crafting exceptional wines while respecting the land and traditions of Bolgheri. With each bottle they produce, they continue to contribute to Bolgheri’s legacy as a world-renowned wine region, offering wine enthusiasts a taste of the remarkable terroir and history that defines this corner of Tuscany.
The Poggio Al Tesoro Story through its Wines
Il Seggio: A Symphony of Bolgheri Terroir
The Bolgheri region’s remarkable diversity in terroir serves as the backdrop for Poggio Al Tesoro’s Il Seggio, a wine that harmoniously blends Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Named after the Seggio River, which flows through the municipality of Castagneto Carducci, this Bolgheri Rosso draws its inspiration from its exceptional vineyard sites.
The Via Bolgherse vineyard, nestled between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci, is where the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for Il Seggio thrive. The red sand-rich soil, infused with fossils, ensures excellent drainage. The average age of the vines in this vineyard is 17 years.
In closer proximity to the sea lies the sprawling Le Sondraie vineyard, spanning 50 hectares. Here, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot flourish in soil composed of clay, sand, and pebbles rich in minerals—an ideal canvas for these grape varieties. The vines at Le Sondraie average 15 years of age.
Following a meticulous harvest, the grapes are gently destemmed and softly pressed to partially rupture them. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, with subsequent maturation in 225-liter French oak barrels, 30% of which are new. Natural malolactic fermentation occurs during the 15-month aging period, after which the wine is prepared for bottling.
Earlier we reviewed the 2020 Il Seggio and awarded it with a 92-point DWA score. You can read the full review for this wine here.
Solosole: Bolgheri’s Glistening Gem
Poggio Al Tesoro’s reverence for terroir is perfectly exemplified by Solosole, a wine that underscores the potential of Bolgheri’s Vermentino. Thriving in a Mediterranean climate, Vermentino benefits from its proximity to the sea, where cooling breezes mitigate the heat of the summer, allowing for gradual ripening and the preservation of acidity.
The Vermentino grapes for Solosole originate from vineyards in Bolgheri, Castagneto Carducci, and Livorno. The Corsican Vermentino clone, first introduced in 2004, found its ideal home in these coastal vineyards. Manual night harvesting precedes gentle pressing and fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Following fermentation, the wine ages on the lees for an additional month in stainless steel tanks before bottling.
Earlier we reviewed the 2022 Solosole and awarded it with a 91-point DWA score. You can read the full review for this wine here.
Sondraia Costa Toscana Bianco: An Ode to Viognier
From the renowned Le Sondraie vineyards comes the Sondraia Costa Toscana Bianco 2020, a tribute to the Viognier varietal and the Bolgheri region’s distinct terroir. This Viognier wine represents an exquisite blend of traditional and innovative winemaking practices, expertly crafted by Poggio Al Tesoro.
The 2020 vintage was a result of serendipitous weather conditions in Bolgheri, with well-timed rains and diurnal temperature variations during September. This climatic gift ensured a uniform flowering, impeccable fruit set, and an exceptional harvest.
Sondraia Bianco is vinified in steel vats, terracotta amphorae and French oak barrels. This white wine captures the essence of the Viognier grape. Skin maceration, controlled-temperature fermentation, and the avoidance of malolactic fermentation preserve the wine’s freshness and acidity.
Earlier we reviewed the 2020 Sondraia Toscana Bianco and awarded it with a 93-point DWA score. You can read the full review for this wine here.
Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore: Bolgheri’s Iconic Red
Poggio Al Tesoro’s flagship wine, the Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore, stands as a symbol of Bolgheri’s winemaking excellence. This iconic creation, born in 2003, has garnered acclaim from both Italian and international wine critics, rapidly earning a place among Bolgheri’s classics.
Sourced from the estate’s finest parcels, with a significant emphasis on the Soprastrada vineyards, the Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore embodies Bolgheri’s viticultural prowess. A Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, this wine is meticulously crafted to express the region’s rich terroir.
The winemaking process involves separate vinification of each varietal, with a strong focus on maceration to extract the full spectrum of flavors and aromas. Extensive aging in French oak barriques—half new and half second-use—brings soft tannins, sumptuous richness, and an enticing concentration to the wine. Nine months of bottle aging round out the aging process.
Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore epitomizes the allure of Bolgheri’s exceptional wines. This is a wine of remarkable depth and complexity, offering a sensory journey that captivates the palate.
Earlier we reviewed the 2019 Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore and awarded it with a 95-point DWA score. You can read the full review for this wine here.
Poggio Al Tesoro: Crafting Bolgheri’s Terroir Tales through Exceptional Wines
In essence, Poggio Al Tesoro weaves a captivating narrative of Bolgheri’s winemaking heritage through its diverse range of wines. From the audacious embrace of Bordeaux grape varieties to the celebration of pure Vermentino and the elegance of Viognier, the estate’s wines are an eloquent expression of terroir and tradition. Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore, the crown jewel, encapsulates Bolgheri’s excellence, inviting wine enthusiasts to savor the beauty of this unique Italian wine region.
This article is written as part of our project ‘Tuscany, a Journey through Five Lenses’ by our own Niels Aarts, picture credits Poggio Al Tesoro. To read more about this project and Poggio Al Tesoro click here.