Based just outside Florence, Bibi Graetz is something of a maverick in the Tuscan wine scene. Working with old vineyards of indigenous grapes around Chianti, he produces intense wines classified as IGT Toscana; not fitting neatly in either the Super Tuscan or Chianti camp.
The son of a sculptor (Gidon Graetz) and initially an artist himself, a graduate from Florence’s Academia dell’Arte, it is perhaps understandable that Graetz was not afraid to approach winemaking differently. He openly admits that he didn’t listen to anyone when setting out to make wine.
He took over his parents’ winery in the early 1990s aged 33; within a decade he felt he had made enough mistakes to understand what he needed to do to make wine the way he wanted. He broke away from the Chianti Classico DOCG, making his first vintage of Testamatta (“testa matta” literally means “crazy head” – referencing Graetz’s radical approach) in 2000.
More recently the style of his wines shifted; inspired by the success of the cool, wet 2009 vintage. While he was concerned that the wines would be weak and lack intensity, they proved more popular than the powerful and ripe 2010s. It made Bibi realise how Sangiovese benefits from elegance rather than power.
Colore is Bibi Graetz’s top wine, sourced from some of the oldest vineyards in Tuscany. The wine is a blend of indigenous varietals (predominantly Sangiovese as well as small proportions of Canaiolo and Colorino). According to Graetz, the Colorino brings fruit and velvety tannins, the Canaiolo minerality and intensity, while the Sangiovese represents the
structure and power of the wine. Testamatta is 100% Sangiovese, with fruit from five separate vineyards in Chianti, all of which are over 50 years old.
With his non-conformist approach, Bibi Graetz sees his wines as closer philosophically to the Super Tuscans than traditional Chianti Classico, even if he works exclusively with the region’s native grapes. Whatever the labelling, the wines have to be tasted to be believed, they are beautifully elegant, fine expressions of Sangiovese.