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The Rise of the Super Tuscan

Rebecca Gibb travels to the Tuscan coast to the birthplace of Sassicaia, a wine that started out as an experiment and became Italy's 'wine of the 20th century'.

Wine has been made by most civilisations throughout history, and in every part of the world. It has inspired artists, thinkers, writers, theologians and poets through the ages, and is deeply connected with the story of recorded human history. In this series, five wine critics offer personal reflections on the personal, political, and historical stories of bygone bottles.

In the third episode, Master of Wine Rebecca Gibb travels to the Tuscan coast to the birthplace of Sassicaia, a wine that started out as an experiment and became Italy's Wine of the 20th Century. Created by a family that trained Gold Cup and Arc de Triomphe-winning horses in the 1940s, the Tenuta San Guido estate is still home to race horses, but the demise of Italian racing and the runaway success of this Italian red means that Sassicaia is now the thoroughbred of this stable.

The story of Sassicaia is also the story of the transformation of the Italian wine scene. Sassicaia and a group of other nonconformist wineries nicknamed Super Tuscans shunned the traditional grape of Tuscany - Sangiovese - in favour of Bordeaux-style blends. Operating outside of the local rules meant that some of the finest wines in Italy were labelled as simple table wines. Rebecca visits this famous family to hear their story of fast horses and fine wine, and meet those who have witnessed Sassicaia's rise from homemade wine to Italy's most revered red.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.

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11 minutes

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