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Average critic rating : 95.0 points
Soldera’s 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva has been utterly gorgeous on the many times I have tasted it. Expressive, floral and impeccably perfumed, the 2006 Riserva is surprisingly mid-weight and gracious in this vintage. Layers of sweet fruit with Burgundian overtones emerge as the wine gains depth and volume in the glass. Today, the 2006 is a delicate Brunello from Soldera rather than a powerhouse, but then again, these wines have a way of putting on weight in the bottle. I can’t wait to see how the 2006 develops over the coming years. Soldera fans know that there is sometimes more than one bottling of the Riserva. This is Lot F86, which is the Lot imported into the US. I also tasted E85, which is a bit firmer, but within the context of Soldera wines, these two bottlings are quite similar.||The wine world was shocked in November 2012 when a disgruntled former employee entered the Soldera cellar and opened the spigots of all the casks in the cellar. In a few minutes, all of the wines in those casks, vintages 2007-2012, went literally down the drain, causing a loss that goes well beyond anything that can be measured in financial terms. The Soldera Brunellos are by far the most visible, expensive and fervently collected wines of Montalcino. To lose virtually the entire production of these wines would be like six vintages of DRC being destroyed. In other words – unthinkable. Just a year before, I tasted all of those wines. To think they are gone is utterly heartbreaking. Fortunately, a few wines were not destroyed in the theft, including small amounts of vintages 2007-2012 that were racked into steel at the time of the break-in and a portion of 2006 that had already been bottled. Those wines will be doled out to a lucky few with a teardrop over the coming years. Meanwhile, Gianfranco Soldera, a man of unbreakable determination, is focused on the 2013 season. But the story does not end there. Immediately following the destruction at Case Basse, fellow Brunello producers offered to give Soldera bulk wine, a gesture more of solidarity than anything else, as those producers surely knew Soldera would never have accepted their wines, far less bottled them under his own label, given his highly personal style. Soldera’s terse response to his colleagues’ offer of assistance understandably angered them. A few weeks ago, Soldera announced he was selling his remaining stock of 2006 Brunello as IGT labeled 100% Sangiovese from the Case Basse estate, while doubling his ex-cellar price. In the meantime, the Consorzio prepared to sue Soldera for libel. Sound like a soap opera? Unfortunately, this public airing of dirty laundry, so typical of Italian culture, is yet another black eye for Montalcino, a region that can’t seem to go more than a few years without some controversy. This action helps no one. The best thing the Consorzio could have done is take the high road and ignore Soldera. Instead, they have given him additional publicity. So, let’s talk wine while the warring factions duke it out. eRobertParker.com.June, 2013
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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