Legendary for being an incredibly opinionated soul as well as a strict traditionalist, Gianfranco Soldera is a master of Brunello di Montalcino. Soldera Case Basse enjoys the same cult status as some other wine making greats such as Screaming Eagle in Napa, Bartolo Mascarello in Barolo and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy; he is arguably the preeminent Brunello producer of these times.
After travelling throughout Italy scouting vineyards and properties in 1972, Gianfranco Soldera finally settled upon a small parcel of land now known as Case Basse and, being in Montalcino, he planted the only suitable grape for the region – brunello. Brunello, a.k.a. the little dark one, is a clone of sangiovese used to make the name-sake wine. An ecological heaven, Case Basse is an ecosystem completely natural and in balance due to 100% natural farming practices; flora and fauna live harmoniously together protecting the vines from predators and disease. Soldera’s firm belief in the importance of terroir and Case Basse’s purity yields an estate like no other and his meticulous approach to his land has garnered much attention and even serves as a research facility for many scientists. His wife, Signora Graziella, also happens to be a botanist and landscape architect and is famous for maintaining a rose garden with over 1500 species.
Soldera’s ultimate goal is to create the perfect expression of sangiovese through the highest level of quality. “The wine goes from the land to glass without much interference.” [Gianfranco Soldera] Quality is attained in the vineyard and continued in the cellar by means of open-top fermenters using only indigenous yeasts (sans temperature control), manual pump-overs and an extended nap in Slavonian botti for as long as the wine needs to become a “Soldera Brunello di Montalcino.” This can range anywhere between 45 to 65 months all-the-while conventional brunello DOCG laws dictate winemakers age their wines for only two years in oak. Soldera’s wines consistently surpass convention because of his immaculate treatment of his land and as well as his mad, perfectionist tendencies, but it is through this arduous effort that he supports, promotes and elevates the region of Montalcino and his art of winemaking.
This week’s Haute Wines praises Gianfranco Soldera for defining perfection as it relates to Brunello di Montalcino. If given the opportunity to delight and bask in the wonders of a Soldera, it is not a coincidence. We are fortunate enough to have Gianfranco Soldera watching over his wines until the moment they are consumed.
Soldera Case Basse, Brunello di Montalcino, 2002 – With only a few thousand bottles made for the world, this brunello is a labor of love, passion and devotion. It is excellent! Nothing to do with a powerhouse wine full of oak, tannin and dark fruit; on the contrary, it is a clear, brick hue and features bright red cherries, tobacco and leather on the nose. The palate is intense and concentrated with all types of red fruit (berries, plums, cherries) being present along with spicy notes of coriander and pepper. The ’02 brunello is sexy, seductive, smooth and even debonair, in a Cary Grant kind of way, sure to sweep you right off your feet.
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