Introducing the latest installment of FINE+RARE buyer Jessica Bryans’ Tuscany Wine Journal, documenting her whistle-stop tour of all the region has to offe
To read Day One, click here.
Day Two: Gianfranco Soldera, a wine-making legend.
I woke up at 4:30am this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. Why? Because, today I was about to meet the legendary Gianfranco Soldera! As any lover of Italian wines will know, this is an enormous privilege and had left me a bundle of nerves and excitement.
I was not disappointed. I arrived at the Solderas’ estate, Casse Basse, in the early afternoon to a warm welcome – Gianfranco greeted me outside with a big smile and an immediate disclaimer that he does not speak English. Translator in tow, we set off on a tour of the property.
I spent two glorious hours wandering around the Solderas’ beautiful estate and hearing all about their winemaking philosophy: quality over quantity, meticulous care for the vines and fanatical berry selection. Soldera has a respect for his land like no other, firmly believing that nature is a key ingredient in the production of good wine and he knows just how to harness this energy for fantastic results.
The estate itself is stunning; breathtaking views of rolling Tuscan hills can be seen from all over the vineyards, and at their heart is Soldera’s family home, around which his wife, Graziella, has created 2 hectares of botanical gardens. As we walk past, we spot her working away with a team of gardeners to clear out some trees.
It is clear that the Solderas are not afraid of hard work and ever day is spent dedicated to maintaining what they have created since 1972 when they first bought the property – a rundown, abandoned piece of land – upon which they planted their first vines. Three years later, they made their first vintage: the 1975.
After our tour I taste barrel samples of 2013 and 2015 – these are ethereal wines. Gianfranco tells me of his three must have’s for all wines – elegance, perfume and balance. We then move on for lunch and I am treated to one of the most memorable meals of my life – cold meats, risotto and a potato omelette along with two of Gianfranco’s favourite white wines and a Casse Basse 1999.
A truly fantastic day and one that I felt very privileged to be able to enjoy. My full article on Soldera will be published in the next few weeks.
As well as my visit to Soldera, Day Two of my Brunello trip also featured visits to two other producers. First was Poggio di Sotto, where I tasted the 2011 Brunello and 2010 Riserva. Both were wonderful but the 2010 Riserva is completely out of this world. Poggio di Sotto do a great job of making elegant, fresh and perfumed Brunello and the 2010 is the best I have ever tried from this winery. What’s more, this is extremely rare indeed, with only 3000 bottles were ever made.
Finally, I finished the day with a visit to Casanova di Neri. It is always a pleasure to taste these wines – they are rich and giving examples of Brunello. The surprise for me is the 2008 Cerretalto which was simply stunning. The Cerreltalto 2010 (effectively the Brunello Riserva of the winery) will be released soon and it has already received 100 points from James Suckling.
One last take away from today – 2015 was a magical harvest and producers are citing it as potentially another phenomenon like 2010. Good news!