Bibi Graetz - The estate's 20th anniversary03-12-2021
Both Tuscany and the Chianti region itself have many historic wineries, with centuries of history. But the region cannot do without innovators, who want to do something in a completely different way and who are crazy enough to actually carry out their plans. One of those special innovators is Bibi Graetz (producer of Testamatta, among others). As the son of an artist couple – and an accomplished artist himself – he decided to take a completely different path and become a wine producer. He did it in his own unique way, ignoring every rule of modern viticulture and doing what his heart told him. He decided to make a wine from vines in Fiesole, the terraces on the north side of Florence.
This is an area that was famous in Etruscan times as a wine region, but where no top wines were made in recent history; they all came from the area south of Florence. The rolling hills with their fertile soil were used for planting olives or for creating beautiful gardens. Graetz decided to work in this region with old vines, to try to make a top wine. These two basics went together with the key ingredients, as he puts it: "passion, love and constant dedication." In 2000, the first wine came on the market, from an 8-hectare vineyard with 60-year-old vines. Now, about ten years later, the wine is a great international success.
Initially, Graetz supplemented his Sangiovese with a little Merlot, but in recent years he has switched to pure Sangiovese. This is because he wants to concentrate completely on the classic grapes of the region. In addition to Sangiovese, this also includes Colorino and Canaiolo. This has only given the wine even more class and distinction. Logical, because the Sangiovese, the classic Chianti grape, fits best with the vineyards of this region. What is also special is that the wine, under the influence of the weather conditions, has its own character every year and that no one year is the same.
The common thread is a very pronounced and intense character, both in the smell and in the taste. The amount of production of Testamatta is limited and does not exceed 10,000 bottles per year. The meaning of the name, Testamatta, is very apt: crazy (in the) head. There must indeed be a crazyness if you want to start such an ambitious project and also manage to bring it to a successful thing.
The estate's 20th anniversary
To celebrate the estate's 20th anniversary they released their flagship wines with a special commemorative (2000-2019) bottle. It looks like dew drops on the glass but in color. A beautiful packaging.
During an online meeting we tasted The Colore and the Testammata 2019.
Bibi Graetz - Colore 2019 (95+ TSW)
Colore is the highest expression of Bibi Graetz dream, from very old vineyards of Sangiovese. Poor soils mixed with sand and stone and high altitude create the perfect terroir for a wine that tells a lot about Tuscany and its ancient taste. Only the best few barrels of the whole production will become Colore.
My tasting notes:
In the glass a deep ruby red color.
On the medium nose aromas (still a little bit shy) of bramble berries, red cherries, and some strawberries with hints of herbs, spices, balsamico, flowers, refined cedar and dried sage.
On the palate dry, full-bodied (powerful) with medium(+) nice acidity and medium(+)ripe tannins. Complex with lots of layers, elegant and atractive with flavours of red and dark fruits, cedar, liquorice, pepper, young leather and vanilla. The finish is long and complex. Start drinking over 5/10 years.
Vintage 2019 provided the best conditions for a full and healthy development of the plants. During the spring, the limited quantity of the rain prevented the onset of illnesses. The summer was characterized by a good thermal excursion between day and night with a very “smooth” climate which gave the possibility to the grapes to ripen slowly and completely. The result was that the grapes had the perfect quantity of sugar and acidity with an incredible aromatic texture. The harvest started on September 21th and ended the 8th of October.
Vinification and Aging
The grapes sourced for Colore were selected from 3 vineyards: Lamole, Vincigliata and Siena. Each vineyard was harvested up to 8 times, allowing to hand-pick the grapes at the perfect level of ripening. After the first selection in the vineyards, a second selection occurs at the winery before the destemming. At this stage the berries were softly pressed and placed in open-top barriques, with extreme attention on keeping each plot and parcel separate from the others. The fermentation is conducted by indigenous yeasts naturally with 6 to 8 manual punch-down and pump-over per day, without temperature control and without bleedings, and lasted up to 2 weeks, with one extra week of maceration on the skins. After the fermentation the wine is moved into new barriques, where the malolactic fermentation happens. Each parcel is aged separately for almost 20 months before the final blend is decided.
Bibi Graetz – Testamatta 2019 (93+ TSW)
"Testamatta” – “crazy-head” in Italian - is the best word to describe Bibi Graetz: a positive, creative and passionate person. Testamatta wine expresses the purity, minerality and transparency of Sangiovese from old vines on the top of the hills characterized by soils rich of stones. A Supertuscan made with 100% Sangiovese, result of the combination of tradition and creativity.
My tasting notes:
In the glass a bright ruby red color.
On the medium(+) aromas of cherries, plums and blackcurrant jam with hints of young leather, eucalyptus and minty tones, cedar and flowers.
On the palate dry, medium(++) bodied with medium(+) acidity and medium(+) fine grained tannins. Elegant and complex with flavours that are a recall of the nose supplemented with blackberries, vanilla and spices. The finish has a medium(++) spicy length.
The season has been very stable with the right quantity of heat and rain in all the season. The cold and dry winter and the average quantity of rain in the spring prevented the proliferation of illnesses. The correct growing of the plants was supported by the lowering of the minimum temperature in the preharvest period, this led to a slow and complete maturation and to an incredible aromatic expression. This smoothness of the climate provided grapes of outstanding quality. The harvest started on September 21th and ended the 8th of October.
Vinification and Aging
Testamatta grapes are selected and sourced from the best 5 vineyards of the winery: Vincigliata, Londa, Lamole, Montefili and Siena. Each vineyard, divided in parcels, is harvested up to 8 times, making sure all the grapes are picked at the perfect ripening point. The 5 old-age vineyards, (up to 80 yrs old) are located in different areas of Tuscany: Lamole & Montefili in the heart of Chianti Classico at 600 and 400 meters altitude, Vincigliata nearby Firenze at 280 meters altitude, Londa at north of Firenze, towards the Rufina valley and Siena in the south of Tuscany at 250 meters altitude. The hand-picked grapes, selected in the vineyards firstly and later for the second time at the winery, are destemmed and then soft pressed. The fermentations are conducted by natural and indigenous yeasts, in open top barriques (225L) for the smaller parcels of the vineyards and in barrels or stainless steel for the larger ones without any temperature control and “bleedings” neither, with 6 manual puch-down and pump-over per day. After 7-10 days of maceration, the different parcels are moved into old barriques and barrels for 20 months.