About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Soldera Dinner @ Ristorante Morini

Last week, along with a few good friends, I attended a dinner featuring four vintages of Gianfranco Soldera Brunello.  The event was hosted by Matt Tornabene, owner of Manhattan Wine Company and held at Ristorante Morini in NYC.

Cosmo, Mark, Paul, Tony, Joe

2008 Case Basse Visit
I have long been a big fan of Soldera’s wines and had the pleasure, along with my family, of spending 2 ½ hours with him at his Case Basse estate in 2008.  Along with my visit to Giuseppe Quintarelli, it remains my most fondest vineyard visit.  The estate is a testament to Mother Nature, with its more than 1500 varieties of roses and numerous insect and animal sanctuaries.  The wines are a pure expression of what Mother Nature gives him to work with.  He limits production to 15,000 bottles annually, thus assuring excellence in every vintage and every bottle.  Such excellence does not come cheap.  The wines today will cost you about $500 a bottle.

Soldera,and his wife Graziella, an avid botanist, first discovered the then-abandoned Case Basse property in the early 1970s. They set about restoring the estate to full function, following a strict and intriguing philosophy of “enlightened agriculture” to create a singular Brunello of the utmost quality.

The estate vineyards, subject of continuous study by the agriculture faculties of various leading universities, are planted within a complex ecosystem ideal for natural cultivation, where fertilization is organic and no herbicides are permitted. The vineyards are small in size in order to permit manual cultivation at all stages, followed by a short harvest.  The wines spend six years or more in large, neutral oak casks with minimal rackings before bottling.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspect of the evening was when Soldera, through his interpreter, spoke about how his bottling techniques and cork quality obviate the need to store his bottles on their side, as is usual for all wines that are aging.  He says, “stand them up”.  I found this to be very, very interesting.

We were served the 4 wines side by side, thus enabling us to move back and forth between them and assess the wines over the course of the dinner.  Dinner was good, but took a back seat to the wines.

2000 Soldera Case Base Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.  A difficult year in Tuscany marked by very uneven growing conditions, but in the hands of master like Soldera, he turned out the wine of the vintage.  The wine soared from the glass initially, but after an hour it began to run out of gas.  A remarkable effort given the vintage, but it lacked the pedigree of the others tonight and will never, in my opinion, reach the heights they are destined to attain.

2006 Soldera Case Basse Toscano Sangiovese. A man of very strong conviction and principals, Soldera resigned from the local Brunello Consorzio over their policies.  Beginning with this vintage he now bottles his wine as Toscano Sangiovese, but it is still the same glorious Case Basse Brunello he has always made.  This was the tightest wine of the group displaying green notes and somewhat harsh tannins.  Ah but the pedigree is fantastic.  This is destined to be a marvelous wine.  It did begin to show some of its underlying beauty after two hours in the glass.  If you open one now, I would definitely decant it for about 4 hours, but I suggest giving it a few more years in the cellar.

2008 Soldera Case Basse Toscano Sangiovese.  This is classic Soldera that is still a bit young.  Excellent depth and focus that will be enhanced as the fruit begins to fully emerge in a couple more years.  I found the finish to be soft, lengthy and elegant.  According to Antonio Galloni, “2008 spent 18 months in cask and finished its aging in steel, so it is quite different from virtually every other wine made at Case Basse, but it is drop-dead gorgeous just the same”.

2009 Soldera Case Basse Toscano Sangiovese.  While all the wines were great, I fell in love with the 2009.  It was simply glorious. The bright, ripe fruit danced on the tongue with soft tannins and wonderful complexity.  Delicious now, this is destined to be a monster wine in a year or two. According to Soldera, ‘09 was a difficult vintage.  He says he prefers these types of vintages because the wines turn out to be sensational as they take on weight and age.



  1. That's an awesome picture of you at the winery! And wow, what a historic event to dine and taste with Soldera in NYC. Amazing... great post and great notes.

  2. Thanks Jeremy. My visit and subsequent dinning with Soldera are two of my fondest wine memories.