The man that wasneurot thereby Filippo BartolottaAny time that I pay a visit to Mr Gianfranco Soldera is like entering in a different universe where different rules and time patterns apply.His inner rythm seems to be perfectly tuned in with Natureeuros one and it doesneurot take long before anyone can sense that.Whether or not one is a wine lover, meeting up with Mr Soldera is an enlightning experience.He is a very huble person with a very consistent philosophy which has never changed in 36 vintages.His way to make fine wine seems to be based on the following key points:choosing a very vocated spot for viticulture; respecting nature in any way possible; avoiding the use of what ever kind of pesticides and additives in any part of the process in the vineyard and in the cellar; allowing the wine to be alive.So given the great terroir and cr which Solderaeuros ten hectars are leteuros see how is the rest handled.First of all he likes to point out that only eight of his ten hectars are in production today as he believes one should wait at least seven years from planting prior harvesting the fruit for Brunello.In the vineyard everything is carried out by hand; he would only use the Bordeaux mixture (copper and sulphur) up to 60 days prior harvesting, that is right before veraison; if any fertilizer is needed then it would be a natural option such as hay; if rot would attack the vine then a carefull green harvest would take place as well as an extreme selection prior fermentation; bugs are kept away increasing biodiversity and a more complex ecosystem, which allows predators to get rid of them (birds or vine-friendly bugs).Once in the cellar the wine is treated as gently as a new born baby. The basic rules of hygen would apply here and the simplest operations possible are the only ones carried out. There is basically no machinery aside from the bottling line (of course no use of Nitrogen but CO2 only) and the walls are just rocks from Montalcino: the air in his cellar is very fresh/healthy and mineral.The wooden cask are big (80 Hl) or more Slavonian long aged oak, which is kept in the most pristine way immaginable.I have asked him if he would scrape the inside surface every once in a while to get rid of the cristals created by the wine: when is time to carve a cask it is time to throw them away. I hand wash and scrub them with hot water and soda at every racking. This way the oak is kept pristine like new. Whenever I smell something rotten the cask is ready to go for retirement. Many people say Soldera is very pretentious and hard going person, but you just need to tune in with him listening carefully and the Soldera world will open up to you with all its secrets.The more I visit wine estates and vineyards and the more I understand that learning about wine is a life time achivments. Different places matching different minds give as a result unexpected wines.With Soldera though everything is base on the simplest and most logical rules.I rememmber from grammar school to University, from the first job to the latest that the more you study and the more you learn about a subject and the more complex that subject becomes.Also very often one tends to go for the more complicated theories to explain a phenomenon sometimes overlooking the basics of the phenomenon itself.Making wine is the simplest thing of all. Making good wine is a little more difficoult. Making fine wine instead is a completely different matter.The point is that the process to high-quality/ emotional/fine wines is extremely long: from the soil composition and analysis to the grafting to the right rootstokt: from the trainging to the pruning of the vine; from harvesting to crashing; from fermentation to bottling; from storing to finally drinking anything can go wrong and the amount of variables that one can modify in the process are billions.Some people choose to have faith in one winemaker, some people choose to trust one specific cellar technique, some others prefer to have a spiritual approach to viticulture and wine making and every producer, rightfully so, seems to be having choosen the best path.Iteuros difficoult to judge and iteuros even more difficoult to say what is the best way as there isneurot a best way.Sometimes though there are some basic rules that are shadowed by new up and coming techniques or theories or gurus that are to often taken as the panacea!Mr. Soldera is a man with a very consistent life style and approch to his wine making: he has been always aiming to find Harmony with Nature and he is very respectfull of it but without taking anything for granted or without having a fideistic view of it.Wine is the result of a very natural process, that needs to be respected, he keeps repeting wheter is walking with you in his beloved vineyard -I doneurot shear off the top of the vineeuros shoots, he says tuking them in with a caressing gesture, or you would end up having more lateral growth which youeuroll be needing to cut anyway- or stepping down in the super clean underground natural 12C temperature and over 90 natural degree of humidity furnished only with huge Slavonian oak casks-Here the wine is alive. I doneurot push anything in wine making. Sometimes the alcoholic fermentation can reach up to 36C. And wouldneurot the yeasts dye with that hit? Of course not my two yeast strains have been here for 36 vintages, if they doneurot know how to behave what else should?To a fast visitor Solderaeuros words might sound very naive, but if you dare to ask more then an underith truth will arise.Soldera makes wine in the most natural way he can, he says, but then he has been looked after at least by two Univeristies: the Cattolica in Piacenza and the University of Florence.Several ongoing studies are being carried out for many years wheter it has to do with climate changes -allerting Soldera of amount of rain, humidity, temperature patterns, etc- or with microbiology. Professor Vincenzini, head of the microbiology department of the University of Florene, has been studing the winemaking side from harvest to bottle to understand the various changes that occour during these many years. Soldera is very proud of this: my Sangiovese spends at least five, sometimes six years in the casks going through many racking to clean the vats and to allow proper oxigenation and there is always life in my wine, he says filling a glass from one of this beautifull gigantic vats. His cellar doesneurot have any mould and thateuros due to hygene but also to University check ups and eventual subsequent actions.I went for the 2007 vintage to see how is the newst Soldera. He wouldneurot suggest what to taste evene under threat! What would you like to taste? What do you reccomend? I answerd back. You tell me, I doneurot have any favourite one and I let people choose what they preferer. Every vintage shows a different character.The wine shows a very intriguing peppery character with an elegant floral and cranberry crush nose, the tannins are like velvet already and its siluette is as ethereal and levigated as that one of a brancusi statue. The wine is impossible to spit for its amazing enery and dynimic finish. You wouldneurot be allow any way in Solderaeuros cellar as he always like to remind: by the please do not spit in my cellar.2007 has been a very difficoult vintage because of a hail storm hence the production is a third of the normal one, he says sniffing it with a sweet and smart smileThis is the point with Soldera. If anything is bottled it would be a fine wine, otherwise he wouldneurot bother and would give the wine away to a convent for charity (I have to say that I envy those nuns a bit!).Whateuros next? I asks me in a very relaxed way. I choose 2004 as it has been a great vintage and also as it is my soneuros vintage.The wine looks darker and denser but always with the same pure transaprent brillian red hues colour. There is never a trace of black inky opaqueness very common in many wines today.This is due to the Sangiovese light anthiocianic character and to the high level of total acidity and low pH: we are usually over 6 gr per litre with a pH below 3.4.The most recent trends in wine making is going in the opposite direction to lower the acidity and increase pH allowing the wines to be smoother ad friendlier but also with the high risk of brettanomyces euroa yeast -which gives a metallic, animal and cheesy character which actually many people like- is easier to have with higher pH and very extracted phenolic wines.Here again, aside not having the powerfully extracted style wines with low pH there is also Prof. Vincenzini and his Department always kaming continuos check up in the wine.2004 is a richer wine with a denser and very warm nose and palate. Like all Solderas, elegance is the key also to euro04 but compared to euro07 here there is also a great pulp with a lot of roundness and lenght which I am sure my son will be able to enjoy for his eighteenth birthday.I told him so to Mr. Soldera and he doesneurot make a pip but just saying: everyone can find different things in wine!Mr. Soldera is a wonderful care-taker of that little spot of nature, he is there making sure that things doneurot go wrong, but walking around his estate with him it is almost as if you are never alone. Like someone or something else is always there: that is Nature. He slowly walks about the vineyard and the cellar without pushing towards any specific direction. He tries, his own way, to listen to the guest letting here and there some suggestions or better put he likes to pick your mind about wine, nature and life. If you let your heart and mind open in Case Basse your vision on the wine world will each time take a different, more natural and peacful path.