Introducing Bibi Graetz and His Wonderful, Wild Wines

March 15, 2018
A Note from Sergio

Just before 2000, about the same time that I decided to roll the dice and open Italian Wine Merchants, Bibi Graetz was deciding whether he should start a winery. Bibi, a trained artist, was not raised in a winemaking family--his Norwegian mom and Swiss-Israeli dad were two of those beautifully insane expats who bought a ramshackle castle in Toscana in the 1970s, when castles were cheap. Raised just outside Firenze, Bibi grew up drinking the wine that the family gardeners made from the old vines surrounding family's villa, and, of course, he drank the great Sangiovese from nearby estates, as well as wines from around the globe.

So, as I said, in the late 1990's, Bibi's moment of reckoning arrived. Bibi's family owned about five acres of grapes, leasing out the majority. The leases were set to expire. Bibi had to make the decision: did he sell the vineyards or did he keep them and become a winemaker? Before making his decision, Bibi chose to spend time in the vineyards, smelling the air and the earth, touching the leaves of the vines, trimming the green fruit, and learning the ancient rhythm of winemaking. As happens so often with people who spend their days with vines, with their fruit, and with coaxing wine from those simple berries, Bibi fell in love. He decided to open his own estate.

I've compared winemakers to mystics (Josko Gravner), to dancers (Alex Kristancic), to symphony conductors (Gianfranco Soldera), and to anarchists (Bartolo Mascarello and his cousin Giuseppe Rinaldi). Bibi is a painter of wine. Like an abstract painting, Bibi's wines flow and tell a story without uttering a word. They convey feelings without touching you. They fill your soul as you sip them. Today, I'm very proud to introduce you to Bibi Graetz' wines with seven different bottles, all ineluctably beautiful, and each one a different canvas in the collection of this artist-winemaker, who makes the wines and paints their bottles' labels. I'm always overjoyed to bring you new wines from new producers, and these originals come from the heart of Toscana--I think you'll love them.

Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence: Bibi Graetz's Tuscan Greatness!
2. Wine Events: Upcoming March Wine Tasting Events

My Best,

Sergio Esposito

In the late 1990s, Bibi Graetz was faced with the decision of whether to renew the leases on the old-vine vineyards surrounding his family's castle in Fiesole, Toscana. Bibi was not a winemaker; he was an artist who had trained at Academia dell'Arte in Firenze. Bibi did the only thing he could: he became a winemaker. Aided by trained enologist Alberto Antonini, a world-famous consultant and the former head winemaker at the Antinori family of estates, Bibi's IGT wines quickly garnered notice. Today, Bibi Graetz's estate owns just 37 acres of grapes, but he leases an additional 200 acres in and around Chianti Classico, growing only indigenous Tuscan grapes, using only organic agriculture, and crafting wines that manage to be both nuanced and outrageous, capturing the hearts and minds of wine-lovers around the globe.

Bibi himself has no formal training as a winemaker, which makes his stellar wines that marry intensity with elegance all the more astounding. The son of Norwegian-Swiss-Israeli parents, Bibi was raised in Italy at his family's home, Castello di Vincigliata, a romantic medieval castle high on the hills above Firenze, and this environment informs his winemaking. Bibi employs a unique combination of traditional protocol (like fermentation with natural yeasts, manual punch-downs, and fermentation in open-top barriques without temperature control) with international protocol (like aging in barrique) to create wines that are a mind-bending combination of power and precision, intensity and focus, and elegance and wildness.

Bibi Graetz crafts red, white and even one sparkling wine, and today, IWM is very proud to present seven different bottlings, all at very competitive pricing and some at the BEST PRICE in the country. The flagship of the estate is Testamatta, or "hot-head" in English, a mono-varietal Sangiovese that will surprise and delight fans of Le Pergole Torte and Flaccianello. Today's offer includes the seductive and feral 2013, the explosive and broad-shouldered 2012, and the complex and intriguing 2011. The second IGT red from the estate, Soffocone di Vincigliata, an indigenous blend, originally sported a label banned by the United States (it has since been slightly edited). Today's offer includes the muscular yet silky 2014 and the elegant, tightly wound 2012.

Along with these two standout IGT reds from Bibi Graetz, we're happy to present the estate's Bollamatta, a delicious and rare Sangiovese sparkling wine, and its Casamatta Bianco, a vivacious white blend. In addition to showing the softer, more approachable side of Bibi Graetz, these two wines are affordable, clocking in at less than $34 a bottle. IWM is always happy when we're able to introduce our clients to new wines and winemakers, and we're especially delighted to be able to present the wines from Bibi Graetz, an eclectic, focused and startlingly original winemaker. Ask your portfolio manager to help you select the Bibi Graetz wines that best complement your cellar, palate and lifestyle, or you can go wild and choose your own. After all, that's what their maker would tell you to do!

Vintage Size Price/btl Case Price/btl
NV 0.75 $33.99 $31.27
2015 0.75 $18.99 $17.47
2014 0.75 $56.99 $52.43
2012 1.5 $116.99 $104.99
2014 6 $485.00 $469.00
2012 15 $1,199.00 -
2013 0.75 $109.99 $99.99
2011 1.5 $249.00 $229.00
2012 3 $485.00 $469.00
2012 6 $959.00 $899.00
2011 15 $2,369.00 -

*Pre-Arrival, April

Saturday, March 17 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Walk-Around Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $99.00/person
4-Person Group Special
SAVE 50% - $49.50/ticket

It's a return of one of IWM's favorite tastings, the Mini Grand, featuring wines from Italy! It's an opportunity to enjoy a panoramic landscape of Italian treasures. IWM's team of sommeliers will pour twenty wines--red, white and rosé--explain their roots, answer questions, and deepen your appreciation of Italian wines. Join us and let IWM will fill your glass with wine and your mind with knowledge as you, and other like-minded wine-lovers, walk around sampling wines from some of the finest Italian producers. Complemented by meats and cheeses, and sweetened by preferential pricing on the featured wines, this tasting is a rare treat, and it could only come from IWM, the world's leading authority in Italian wine.

Featured Wines:

Table I
Fontodi Chianti Classico (1.5L) 2013
Fontodi Meriggio 2016
Fontodi Flaccianello 2005
Brigaldara Amarone Case Vecie 2012 (Debut)
Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu 2014 (Debut)
Dante Rivetti Barbaresco Bricco di Neive Riserva 1998

Table II
Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri Rosato Scalabrone 2016
Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Tignanello 2014
Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2011
Antinori Pian delle Vigne Rosso di Montalcino 2014
Antinori Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 2012
Tenuta Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Il Bruciato 2015
Tormaresca Castel Del Monte Rosso Trentangeli 2012

Table III
Graci Etna Bianco 2016
Graci Etna Rosato 2017
Tenuta Dettori Renosu Bianco - Vermentino NV
Tenute Dettori Romangia Cannonau Tenores 2014
Poderi Aldo Conterno Langhe Rosso 2014
Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013

*Wines may be subject to change.

Saturday, March 24 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $119.00/person

IWM Host: Michael Adler

It's Italy's two most beloved, most famous, and most recognized winemaking regions, put head to head in a tasting match: Piemonte, home of Nebbiolo, and Toscano, home of Sangiovese. Who will win? The obvious answer is--you! Join us and let IWM's own Michael Adler explore the terroir, traditions and grapes grown in these two emblematic regions. Sample Barolo and Brunello, Barbaresco and Chianti Classico, Super-Piemontese and Super-Tuscan wines, all accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, and come to a deeper appreciation of wines you love. Perfect for both Italian wine newbies looking to expose their palates and Italian wine aficionados searching for greater understanding, this wine tasting is like a tour through Italy, without leaving glamorous Union Square!

*Wines to be announced.

Tuesday, March 27 | 7:00-10:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Dinner Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $159.00/person
Early Bird Price: $149.00/person (Expires: Tuesday, March 20)

Guest Host: Alberto Graci, Winemaker
IWM Host: Will Di Nunzio, President

Owner-winemaker Alberto Graci is the latest of a long line of Sicilian winemakers, but as a young man, he chose to forgo his family history. In 2004, his grandfather died, and Alberto returned to Sicilia. He sold his family's lands located in the center of the island, and he bought property in Passopisciaro, on the slopes of Etna, an ancient winemaking site; here, Alberto fulfilled his winemaking destiny. Join IWM as we host winemaker Alberto Graci at our first-ever winemaker dinner featuring him and his evocative Sicilian wines. IWM's own Chef Michael Marcelli and his in-house kitchen staff will design a menu to showcase six wonderful Graci bottlings, giving Alberto and you, our guests, much to enjoy, discuss, and share. From the heart of Sicilia to the center of Union Square, this Graci winemaker dinner is a delicious lesson in Italian history, terroir, and traditions, and it could only come from IWM, the world's leading authority in Italian wine.

Featured Wines:

Graci Etna Rosato 2017

Halibut in Camicia
Olive Oil Poached Halibut, Grilled Fennel & Lemon Vinaigrette
Graci Etna Bianco 2016
Graci Etna Bianco Arcurìa 2015

Ragú di maiale
Rigatoni, Ragu of Pork Shoulder, Pea Leaves, fresh Ricotta & Basil
Graci Etna Rosso 2015

Petto D'Anatra
Duck Breast, Roasted Grapes, Pecorino & Vin Cotto
Graci Etna Rosso Arcurìa 2015
Graci Etna Rosso Barbabecchi 2013


*Wines may be subject to change. Menu to be announced.
IWM will do our best to accommodate guests' dietary restrictions with advanced notice.

For more information, please visit our website Wine Events Page.

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