Bibi Graetz Interview

By Gavin Smith

Mar 26th, 2020

This week we caught up with Tuscan maverick Bibi Graetz who cheered up our week with a bit of all-out escapism with his new videos capturing the halcyon days of the 2019 harvest on the island of Giglio. We wanted to share it with those of you stuck indoors, dreaming of better days ahead. We asked Bibi his tips on coping with confinement, his thoughts on the Italian wine renaissance we are all enjoying today, as well his fascination with old vines and his methods to bringing the best out of them for his flagship Testamatta and Colore wines.

We can't ignore what is going on in Europe and the rest of the world right now. After four weeks in lockdown how are you and your team coping? Can you still work in the vineyards?

The rhythm of life in the countryside has always been slower compared to the cities, so we are quite used to live a bit far from the modern rush, even if we are worried and we read and follow the news. Mother natures keeps rolling and we follow the cycle of vineyards with precautions and care of our people: we just finished the pruning and today we had a snow storm that nicely covered our vineyards before Spring arrives.

What is the advice you can give to those of us just starting quarantine?

Well, after 15 days of quarantine we have seen that the most important thing is to feed our souls with good food and good wine! We Italians are spending time slow cooking old “grandma” recipes and baking cakes and of course drinking fantastic wines.

What are the latest updates at the Aurora winery?

All the refurbishments of the historical building are in standby because of the lockdown but the winery is active. We are currently blending our 2018 Testamatta and Colore, released in September 2020.

Italian fine wine has been going through the most amazing renaissance and certainly helped by some fantastic vintages – What for you have been the key reasons behind the rise in quality?

Italy is a beautiful country that counts of the highest number in the world of indigenous varieties which gives us an amazing rainbow of different beautiful wine expressions. If you blend this with the “passion” for what Italians are very well known for, the result will be an amazing and fascinating wine scene that’s seducing more and more wine lovers. On top of this we have been blessed with three top vintages in the last four, 2015 and 2016 are probably within the best I have ever made, the purity of the grapes results in a perfect balance between elegance and structure. And then the magical 2018, I still remember the beauty of the vineyards and my decision to let the vines grows without any human interaction.  The result today is wine with incredible perfumes and freshness, rich of finesse and fruit that definitely position this vintage amongst the greatest I've made.

Fermenting the wines in barrel is a key element to Testamatta and Colore. What does this method bring to the wine?

The first reason why I came across this vinification method is because of my vineyards: I’m totally in love with old vines and today I have the biggest collection of rare and beautiful vineyards in Tuscany. Working with such old vineyards means you have to think out of the box, each single vine is followed individually and the harvest proceed plant to plant, parcel to parcel filling one barrel after the other. The result is amazing, from one vineyard of Sangiovese we can obtain multiple expression of Sangiovese, one for each barrel and each one with different nuances and shades. So when at the end of the aging we start blending these barrels, the magic happens, you can imagine the complexity and the layers of the wines!

What vintages are you enjoying to drink right now?

2016 vintage has been austere and full of richness since the vinification, now after almost 4 years from the harvest it is my favourite wine glass to enjoy what Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino can do in Tuscany. Every time I open a bottle I’m impressed!

What other wines are you enjoying in your confinement?

During our steady lockdown we can’t move and shop, so I’m forced to dig into my private cellar and open some very old bottles of Colore and Testamatta. I also found a couple of old cases of 20 year old Champagne which found its way to our table but also enjoy our Bollamatta “crazy-bubble” Sangiovese sparkling, very fun and full of joy!

What is your favourite song you are listening to during confinement?

Music is always on in the kitchen and it goes from the Abba to Queen, passing through jazz and blues.

A Year in Wine: 1914

BY Rebecca Gibb MW,

Mar 29th, 2020

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