The Latest on Soldera and the Wine f/k/a Case Basse Brunello?

I was thinking about buying some of the Soldera “100% Sangiovese” that is occasionally seen over here. I am sure that all Brunello lovers know about Soldera’s terrible loss of large quantities of his 2007-2012 juice due to vandalism. Soldera released a 2006 Case Basse Brunello Riserva, his last to date, but also a pure Sangiovese IGT with the words “100% Sangiovese” written across the label. (Possibly illegal, that, but whatever.) He also released small quantities of a Sangiovese called Pegasos in 2004 and 2005, apparently from juice that he judged unworthy of Case Basse Riserva status. (The 2005 Pegasos got a 90 from Galloni and no other ratings, the 2004 no ratings at all.) Thus, it was not clear at first whether the 2006 “100% Sangiovese” was a continuation of the Pegasos line, or something else. (Larner gave the wine an 87, complaining about VA, Galloni a 96, claiming that the VA will resolve itself. Of course, VA complaints are nothing new with Soldera’s wines.)

Soldera then went on to produce only “100% Sangiovese” in 2007 (Larner says 2,000 bottles) and 2008 (Larner says 10,000 bottles), from what he was able to salvage from the vandalism. Galloni rated both wines highly, while neither WA nor anyone else rated them at all. Here is where it gets hinky: Larner’s understanding from Soldera is that he will no longer be bottling Brunellos, but rather, only the IGT Sangiovese seen in 2006-2008. I could find no mention of this by Galloni or Sanderson, Tanzer did not review Soldera’s wines after 1997 and I have no idea what Suckling said, because I would not accept a free subscription to, house in Tuscany or no. In addition, Jeremy Parzen apparently tasted the 2008 wine, and gave ongoing coverage on his blog of both the vandalism and Soldera’s subsequent pissing contest with the Brunello consortium (who Soldera claimed fraudulently offered to give him wine to cover that lost in the vandalism). The pissing contest seems to have resulted in Soldera being expelled from the consortium, Soldera resigning from the consortium, or both at the same time, but Parzen said nothing about Soldera no longer making Brunello.

So where does that leave us? To be sure, Soldera is a character and, frankly, right or wrong, a bit of an asshole. Is his decision not to make Brunello going forward a drama-queen stunt, or does he mean it? Does resigning from and/or getting drummed out of Brunello consortium carry with it the penalty that Soldera can no longer call his Sangiovese wine “Brunello”? Or, Gaja-like, does it not matter what he calls his wine? (It does seem that the 2006-2008 Sangiovese bottling is fetching Case Basse Brunello prices and Case Basse Brunello scores from Galloni.) Who among us knows the truth, and will brazenly speak it for the benefit of all during this, the season of 2010 Brunello scores?


as someone who’s never drunk the casse basse b/c of its prohibitive price tag, I am most qualified to have an opinion on this issue. I think Soldera is goin maverick a la Gaja. Anyone who’s “into” BdM will purchase his non-conforming bottles sight unseen. It’s always funny to see IGT or VdT bottles sell for way more than the DOCG bottles.

Or Montevertine in Chianti.

$500+ for the IGT? While interesting the entire question has become irrelevant for me (and that would have been the case whether or not it says Brunello on the label)

Above my budget, but YOU LIVE IN ITALY. Drive down the autostrada in your Maserati for a Sunday drive and ask him yourself. And report back to us. Ply him with old Barolo and we might hear a great story. I’m counting on you, Bill. [cheers.gif]

I don’t think there’s much chance this will hurt him financially. Anybody who was willing to pay the price for his old Brunello will be sufficiently well-informed to know that this is the same wine. The lack of an appellation might hurt a producer who makes more bottles or depends upon less sophisticated consumers, but as the Gaja example shows, that won’t be the case here. People are paying for the producer, not the appellation.

The 2006 IGT is being released here in Ontario for $759 a bottle. Insanity.

I’ve spent more on Soldera Brunello than any other single bottle of wine. But that was about $300/bottle for the 1999. This is now more than Biondi Santi Riserva which I prefer and is still more than I’m willing to pay.

Fortunately there’s plenty of great sangiovese based wines I can afford but it’s a pity. Soldera is great and sui generis.

And I feel uncomfortable buying Montevertine (my old go-to) these days much as I love the wines.

I have visited Gianfranco Soldera a few times over the years, but not since the vandalism that took place at his winery. To be sure, Gianfranco appears to outsiders as being peculiare, but I have found him to be a kind and generous man who strives to make the best possible wine from his estate. His dispute with the Brunello brethren came about through misunderstanding, when he would not accept wines offered him to compensate for the vintage losses he suffered through the vandalism. I think his abrupt refusal might have been misinterpreted…all he was saying was that the wines that were offered by other growers were not Soldera’s. Putting his label on the wines would not be proper in his view.

My first experience with the Pegasus was the 2005 which we shared at lunch one day with Gisnfranco’s daughter, prior to the wine’s release. While Gianfranco did not believe the wine from that vineyard would deliver the longevity to maturity that he was striving for, it is every bit a Brunello with exceptional attributes. I subsequently bought a case of the '05 Pegasus and still enjoy the wine today.

If Soldera plans to bottle his wines as IGT for the future, they will carry his meticulous selection and winemaking that has made his Brunellos top of the line.

Ontario’s pricing is a function of the LBO policy of markups that boost wine prices beyond belief. As a dinosaur monopoly LBO can set their prices as a multiple of landed cost, making the top wines carry the highest prices anywhere.

Hank [cheers.gif]

Didn’t Soldera leave the Consorzio Di Brunello, this no longer being able to use the words Brunello di Montalcino?

That is my question, Ian. It seems to me that the location of his vineyards should determine the right to call his wine “Brunello” or not, rather than his membership in a trade organization. However, anything is possible in Montalcino, so the question is whether he has forfeited or been stripped of the right to use the name “Brunello di Montalcino”, or instead, he is refusing to call his wine “Brunello” as a form of protest or something. (I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he does not intend to mix Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah into his Sangiovese! :slight_smile: )

It seems to me that the location of his vineyards should determine the right to call his wine “Brunello” or not, rather than his membership in a trade organization.

Isn’t the entire point of a DOC or AOC that you belong to the club?

Interesting decision though and while I’m not going to buy the wine, I applaud the principle if it’s actually what he’s decided.

Somewhat off topic, if it were anyone else, I’d be kind of checking how much 2007 - 2012 appeared on the market. Since everyone knows there’s a limited amount, it will likely sell briskly, whatever it happens to be.

DOC, DOCG, AOC, etc. have nothing to do with belonging to an association. Those guarantees are government controlled.

With regard to Gianfranco Soldera choosing to bottle his wines as Pegasus is his decision, and, Bill, he would never blend other grapes into his wines. Of that I am certain…there is no “doubt”. His two vineyards, Case Basse and Intistieti, are grown with Sangiovese Grosso and will remain so.

Hank [cheers.gif]

I don’t know about this case specifically, but what you say isn’t always true. There are lots of demarcated wine regions with required membership to regional growers’ memberships or promotional bodies for regional labelling status. If you don’t pay your dues, you can’t put the place name on the label. It is often very political.

I no longer purchase Montevertine cuz he’s a known racist.

A group of 3 producers (Salicutti, which I represent, Stella di Campalto and Pian dell’Orino) left the Consorzio in disgust and formed a separate group, ‘Sangiovese per Amici,’ but are still labeling as Brunello.

I think you may be referencing local or regional marketing associations, Doug. Those do exist in some areas, but the guarantee of origin designations on labels are government controlled.

Soldera’s vineyards fall within the parameters where he could name his wines as Brunello di Montalcino, but in the end he chooses not to be compared with what he might term as run-of-the-mill pretenders. That’s my take on it anyway.

Hank [cheers.gif]