Soldera is one of the most highly rated and fiercely collected wines of Italy. The winery is based in the Brunello di Montalcino region of Tuscany, however the estate is no longer labelled as a Brunello, following a fall out with the consortium. Made from 100% Sangiovese, the wine is currently bottled as a Toscana IGT.
While founder Gianfranco Soldera ended up in Tuscany, it was not his first choice for setting up a winery. This Tuscan winemaking enterprise was a bit of a compromise for the insurance broker from Milan, who had unsuccessfully attempted to buy vineyards in Veneto and Piedmont first. He eventually purchased the neglected Case Basse property, located in the Brunello sub-zone of Tavernelle, in 1972. He believed it to be the perfect site for growing Sangiovese, having the right aspect to be warm enough to get high levels of concentration in the berries, while high enough in altitude to retain fresh acidity and complexity through slower ripening.
Right from the start, Soldera's project was focused purely on producing the finest wine possible, insisting on buying a property where there were no vines. He wanted absolute control over the clones he would use, rather than inherit poor quality vines that had been pushed to produce volume.
He was a key advocate for Sangiovese being the only variety allowed in Brunello. Soldera believed only Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese as single varieties could be among the great red wines of the world. In a relatively short time, Soldera’s Brunello (later to become a declassified Toscana IGT) had achieved this status, with his Sangiovese widely recognised as one of the world’s top red wines. Today the estate produces just one wine.
Gianfranco Soldera’s legacy is not without controversy. The winery was sabotaged by a disgruntled ex-worker – who emptied vats made up of the 2007 to 2012 vintages. It resulted in a loss of up to three quarters of all the wine produced in those vintages. The Brunello consortium offered to replace the lost wine through donations from other producers. Gianfranco refused such an offer, claiming he could not bottle and label such wine under the Soldera name, considering it a fraud to the consumer. With the consortium claiming it did not expect the donated wine to be sold under the same label, Soldera was expelled from the consortium for libel. From then on, Soldera has been labelled as an IGT Toscana.
Unfortunately, Gianfranco Soldera died in 2019. His family continues to manage the estate.