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Gianfranco Soldera’s 2014 Toscana Debuts, and His 2013 Toscana Returns!
December 18, 2019
A Note from Sergio

What can I say about the late, great Gianfranco Soldera? He was my friend and my mentor. He was often irascible, difficult, and dismissive with people he didn't like. He gave generously--to charities, to his family, and of himself. He was a man of pronounced contradictions, and he was one of the greatest--if not the greatest--winemaker in the world.

Allow me to tell a story to illustrate why I make that bold final claim. I remember a visit to Gianfranco just after harvest in the fall of 2004. When I arrived at the winery, I was expecting chaos and disorder. Harvest is crunch time: a race to crush grapes immediately, start fermentation without too much delay and pray incessantly that it all goes well. Between all these things, a huge mess often results; wineries can end up looking like a kitchen where a messy cook made use of every pot, splashed sauces on the walls and drenched the floor with grease.

However, I found no sign of any work. I sat at Gianfranco's table and caught up for an hour or so. I finally asked, "Why did you postpone picking?" Gianfranco smirked and informed me they had harvested indeed, having just finished a few hours earlier. Much to my disbelief, Gianfranco walked me through the spotlessly clean winery smelling no different than it would in January when barely, if any, work is being done. Then, we stopped in front of a huge, wooden bin of fermenting grapes. He pointed and said, "It's all in there." We climbed to the top and peered through the open hole. I saw a heap of crushed orbs, stripped of their stems and leaves. A beautiful mass of skins, the rich color of amarena, or sour cherry, lightly bubbled as the fermentation started to evolve. It looked as edible and delightful as any bunch of grapes I've ever seen. I asked Gianfranco how it could be that there were no squashed grapes on the floor, bees swarming in for a feast, hoses running from tanks and leaking wine onto the floor, and no expected smell of newly crushed and rotting grapes.

"Patience," he said. "One needs patience and calm when working with nature. You cannot make great wine unless you treat every grape as if it were precious. So here, we don't mistreat even one."

This certainty, this clarity of purpose and action, this pure and unwavering devotion to his work are some of the reasons why I've called Gianfranco the greatest winemaker, but the other reason is this: good winemakers can make great wines in great vintages, but only great winemakers can make great wines in bad vintages. One of Gianfranco's greatest Brunello bottlings was his 2002, a vintage wracked by cold and damp. Despite the challenges of its vintage (or perhaps because of them), the 2002 Case Basse di Soldera Brunello is legendary--it's a wine that transports you, lifts you to greater heights, and tunes your senses to higher frequencies.

Today, I'm very proud to debut a wine that Gianfranco himself likened to his remarkable 2002 Brunello, his 2014 Rosso IGT. Will it be as great? I don't know, but I do know that it's one of the last wines made entirely by Gianfranco and therefore it has already achieved greatness. I managed to score a few more bottles of Gianfranco's luminous 2013 Rosso too, because one great wine deserves another.

"La storia, la famiglia, il cibo, il vino. Questa è la vita dell'uomo," Gianfranco would say. History, family, food, wine. This is the life of man. About this, he was right. Share these Soldera wines with the people you love, pour them with food you love, and toast to Gianfranco, a man who contained multitudes, but who worked with a singular, persistent devotion to make divine wine.


Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence: Two Great Gianfranco Soldera Wines
2. Wine Events: Upcoming December Wine Tasting Events

My Best,

Sergio Esposito