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Average critic rating : 87.0 points
The 1996 is a firm, austere, pinched effort revealing notes of cigar tobacco, Provencal herbs, tar, and red currants in addition to attenuated, dessicated flavors in the finish. While the bouquet merits a score in the upper eighties, the flavors are much less impressive. Some believe this type of vintage will expand and become richer with time in the bottle. However, I'm doubtful. Nevertheless, all this proves is that even Soldera can not always hit the bull's eye when vintage conditions are this challenging. After a remarkable run of great vintages for this idiosyncratic producer, Soldera has turned out a mere mortal wine in 1996, admittedly a difficult vintage for Brunello. I recognize the controversial nature of these wines, which possess high volatile acidity as well as incredible perfumes. For many tasters, they have too many things going on. However, I have loved previous vintages, even if they are among the most expensive wines in Italy. Anticipated maturity: now-2015. Wine Advocate.December, 2002
Case Basse/ Soldera: The Importance
Gianfranco Soldera’s Case Basse estate needs little introduction. Perched on the hills in the south western corner of Montalcino, it produces some of Italy – and indeed the world’s – greatest wine. Established in 1972, Case Basse is credited with playing a key role in establishing Brunello’s new wave and is seen as a reference point for what can be achieved with Sangiovese. In the words of Antonio Galloni, Soldera’s wines are “some of the most compelling and transcendental wines being made anywhere in the world”.
Soldera’s wines are made in small quantities and are always met with ferocious demand by the winery’s loyal following; this makes them some of the hardest to find in all of Italy. We are honoured to have a direct relationship with the Soldera family, having visited Case Basse and hosted tastings at our London offices on a number of occasions. As a result, we are pleased to be able to offer a significant selection of their wines.
Case Basse/ Soldera: The Insight
Soldera believes that nature underpins everything he achieves in the winery. He identifies an ability to harness natural elements as key to the success of his wines, and takes meticulous care of his vines, from pruning to managing the soil.
He is also adamant in his belief that all Montalcino wines should be 100% Sangiovese and was a fierce opponent of (now shelved) proposals to allow other grapes into the blend. He is similarly traditional in the winery, ageing all of his wines in Slavonian oak casks. Soldera is also renowned for being one of the last Brunello producers to bottle his wine; in the words of Galloni “his wines are worth the wait”.
While Soldera’s wines are a delight in any vintage, the 1995, 1990 and 2004 are among his best, with Galloni calling the last of these “utterly spellbinding”. As of 2013, Soldera’s wines have ceased to be labelled “Brunello di Montalcino”, after the winemaker removed himself from the Brunello Consorzio. As a result, all vintages from 2009 onwards have been labelled as the more generic Toscana IGT. Do not be fooled; this is the same excellent wine as ever.
Case Basse/ Soldera: The Background
Case Basse was established in 1972 by Gianfranco Soldera and his wife Graziella. When they initially purchased the property, it was a rundown, abandoned piece of land. With painstaking care and attention, the couple planted their first vines and, three years later, released the debut 1975 vintage. The 24 hectare estate now boasts 12 hectares of vines, as well as a rose and botanical garden lovingly maintained by Graziella. Securing a visit to the estate can be difficult but, in the words of Galloni, a visit to those hallowed cellars is “one of the great experiences in the world of wine”.
In 2012, the Solderas suffered a devastating attack on their cellar in which a disgruntled former employee broke into the winery and opened the taps of the barrels housing vintages 2007 to 2012. This resulted in the destruction of the equivalent of 85000 bottles of wine. A very limited part of the vintages survived, making the wines from these years especially hard to source. Despite this enormous setback, Soldera has bounced back, with demand for his wines and respect for his operation as great as ever.
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