Case Basse Soldera
If you are planning to visit Gianfranco Soldera, make sure you don’t need to drive after: Gianfranco makes sure that when you taste his wines you won’t spit them after. The punishment is your expulsion from his winery. Gianfranco Soldera is without question Montalcino’s most iconic producer. He’s a singular character who defines himself as an “excellent pretentious” with a range of fans and disapproving critics worthy of a big rock star.
Gianfranco established his company, Case Basse, in 1972, after a brilliant career as an insurance broker in Milan. For many years, he looked for an estate in Barolo, but back then, vineyards were not for sale. Despite that, he found his perfect estate in Montalcino. Even if it was an abandoned and uncultivated plot, Gianfranco he had an intuition: right there he would have created a great wine.
Case Basse is situated in Tavernelle, southwest of Montalcino. Here the soil is composed mainly of clay and rocks, perfect to stimulate the roots to grow deep. The extension of his vineyards is about 8 hectares, planted with nothing but Sangiovese.
Despite the production potential could be of about 60k bottles, Gianfranco produces just 15k bottles per year. Until 2006 Gianfranco used to produce only Brunello di Montalcino. Talking of that, we have to remember that in December 2012 Soldera had been subjected to a despicable act of vandalism: an ex-employee wasted in the sewers ¾ of the production that included all the vintages between 2007 and 2012. After that, some producers offered to help Soldera supplying him with part of their wine, so that he could bottle and sell to pay back the damage. Gianfranco took this very kind initiative as an affront to his philosophy: he would never sell a wine with his name if it doesn’t come from Case Basse. This behavior awakened controversies and old resentments between Soldera and many producers of Montalcino that just came out undamaged from the big scandal they were involved in, known as “Brunellopoli”: in fact some companies were accused of not using just Sangiovese to produce their Brunello. After a harsh disagreement with the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino, Gianfranco finally decided to leave it and partially from the vintage 2006 and entirely from the vintage 2007, he started to label his wines under the denomination “Toscana Igt”.
These events contributed to raise steeply the quotation of wines from Case Basse, wines of an extremely high quality, created following a classic style of production.
Soldera, after a hand selection of his grapes that come from vineyards farmed following organic methods that respect nature, collects them into a “tino” (i.e. a wooden vat) where the fermentation takes place without temperature control nor using selected yeast. After a very long maceration, the ageing process takes place into big Slavonian oak casks for a maximum of 6 years. Gianfranco despises barriques: “barriques are meant to be used for inadequate wines that lack tannins and flavours and need to obviate their defect with oak flavours”. As everything is left to nature laws, every cask of wine from Case Basse follows its own natural ageing under the control and care of Gianfranco, who periodically evaluates their evolution.
The wines produced by Gianfranco Soldera continue to evolve in the bottle for decades, to the point that even the more experts are staggered by this unpredictable wine… just as a living being!
Thanks to the encouragement, support and the indispensable help of his wife, Soldera created in his estate of Case Basse an ecosystem that includes 2 hectares of botanical garden where you can find more than 1500 different varieties of roses and other flowers and trees. The couple also build hundreds of nests and hives to offer a shelter to the species of predators that contribute to a natural fight against the parasites of the vines.