By Filippo Bartolotta
Yesterday afternoon the greatest Master of Sangiovese passed away. He was one of the least known, least payed and least understood wine makers in the world. And yet he was one of the greatest. Behind the scenes of a bunch of the purest, most elegant and long living Sangiovese ever.
A true master taster who was able to listen to the wines right from the first day of harvest.
His wines were so uncompromising that during the years of the big block busters even the docg tasting panels weren’t able to recognize these wines as Sangiovese: for them his Reds were too thin!
Today, in a series of reverse actions towards elegance and subtleness, more and more wineries in Tuscany are following his train of thoughts.
Among his masterpieces in Chianti Classico: Bibbiano; Ormanni, Montevertine and San Donatino. In Montalcino: Case Basse; Il Colle and Poggio di Sotto.
I know that among the discerning wine collectors there’s at least two or three labels that are for sure part of their cellar. Â And these bottles managed to be part of these collections not just as the odd Italian bottles that one must have, but as some of the most precious wines of their selection.
As a matter of fact, in these awesome “cantinas”,Â I have personally opened several times two of the delicious Sangioveses Giulio -aka “Bicchierino”-Â helped making.
Gianfranco Soldera-Case Basse, Â Brunello di Montalcino
Martino Manetti-Montevertine, Pergole Torte
Gianfranco Soldera and Giovanni Manetti (today, it’s his son Martino) have always had a very clear idea of the kind of wine they wanted to make, but Gambelli helped them making sure their ultimate idea was actually becoming true.
The relationship between this Maste Taster and these two wineries has been, without any doubts, not just the longest and most consistent, but Â also the most poetic in terms of results in the bottle. As a result, over forty years of collaboration Soldera and Manetti have been producing not just some of the purest and most expressive Sangiovese ever, but also some of the greatest wines aver made.
If you have never come across this labels, you must try at least an old and a new vintage of these two wine to understand what heights of deliciousness we are talking about.
Try Pergole Torte 1990 and Pergole Torte 2004 and Case Basse 1985 and Case Basse 2004.
But do not worry if you can’t find these specific vintages. If this labels were produced in any given year it means they were worthwhile the effort!
Bicchierino passed away at the age of 86 without leaving any pupil that can properly be called so. There isn’t in other word a person that has taken the philosophical inheritance to be able to feel Sangiovese and “listen to it” like he did. His memory though is going to be lingering very long, not only thanks to the great vintages he helped making, but also thanks to Gianfranco Soldera and Martino Manetti who I believe are the true keepers of Bicchierino’ “secrets of Sangiovese”.
So long, farewell.