Wednesday, November 14, 2012


(After the guests had left)

It happened again last week.  My old wine club met at my house and like the most natural thing in the world we individually concluded which wine(s) we liked the most.

Why do we do this and why is wine always subject to this rather simple algorithm??

When you make your call about the best, you have a fairly good argumentation for making that assessment. It’s even measured against your knowledge, experience and preferences. But how come the valuation and ranking of wine is something we do like a reflex and would it be possible to find an alternative??

Wine has always been highly opinionated and consumer guide orientated. We as consumers can’t escape this routine and it’s the DNA of the learning curve. Finding out what wines you like. Bring order to chaos and by the end of the journey we can finally say; “All the good wines are left – no need to turn right anymore”.

Furthermore being an experienced taster, would naturally lead to others wanting to hear your opinion.  “So what’s your favourite wine?”….”Which of the two do you like the most?”

There is a grey area we don’t pursue, when we make this analogy. In my opinion we are too busy breaking the equation by the constantly ranking. Thing is – tasting wine is a quick and dirty process. Gathering, discarding - plusses & minuses. We are demons, hunting great dopamine memories and our brain is a drug addict wanting a specified fix over and over again.

We have to bring ourselves out of this straitjacket. Wine has to be more than this. We should stick to expressing our opinions, but we have to be more diverse, as we risk reducing more than enhancing.

Personally I think I am getting better at this – not that in itself is a quest I force myself to complete. Yet I often find myself haunted by my habits and in the end far from the perfect student. Yet I try to say to myself; better might in some cases just relate to “different?”

I like complex and geeky wines with my wine club – I like simple honest wine with my wife. Simple is not necessarily worse – in some cases better. I like Champagne every day of the week, I like Italian wines better with Italian food. I like wine A because it paired better with carrots, but wine B better because it paired better with celery. I like some wines at summertime – some better at winter. I like mostly wine with food, but can do without in some cases. Some wines don’t appeal to me when I am stressed, so wines do.

And so on….

With this short intro – I present Italy’s best red wine ;-).

2001 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino “Case Basse Riserva”

100% Sangiovese
Winemaker: Gianfranco Soldera
Fermantation: Slavonian oak casks for five years
Winemaking: Organic
Vineyards:  Located in an Ecosystem, which works as a refuge area for natural predators where Gianfranco wife Graziella grows a large range of wild roses.
Alcohol: 13%
Other: Opened 10 hours in advance – but no decanting.
Glass: Zalto Bordeaux Grand Cru

I have been fortunate to taste a lot of Case Basse…and I mean fortunate, because my wallet is running out of credit to finance such extravagance.

Case Basse is the essence of Italian wines to me. It’s a benchmark wine – an icon and despite I don’t like the idea of putting some wines on a pedestal I have to make exception here. Whenever I truly get exited about Italian wines, there might well be a reflection towards Casse Basse.   

I can’t say to you where the 2001 fits into the ranking regime of my best experiences with Case Basse. There are too many great experiences, which have all occurred under very different occasions and circumstances. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s mind-blowing wine to me and extremely emotional. The essence of wine is here and why at all I have this obsession and use time writing these lines.   

The tasting note is needless here. It’s the soul of Italy, Tuscany, Sangiovese and Brunello. It’s also food, people, culture, landscape and authenticity.  If you have never tasted Case Basse – you haven’t tasted a Brunello. If you can’t afford it, but are infected with the Italian wine bug, you have to save up. 

Taste it just once – but be warned, it’s addictive.