Soldera has been famous over the years for his “rules.” It's long been said that he will welcome your visit to his Case Basse estate only if you share his “production and sales philosophy of enlightened agriculture.” He will sell wine to you, but only if you are approved because you “share the principles that have inspired his entrepreneurial policy.” Skeptics are unwelcome.
While some see this as arrogant, the fundamental truth is that his self-confidence breeds great wines. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve in both the vineyard and the cellar, and his techniques are an interesting blend of modern and ancient.
His methods for restricting his yields are state-of-the art: short pruning in the winter, a green pruning in the summer, and grape thinning and limited leaf stripping in the fall to maximize ultimate ripening.
But in the cellar, he sounds more like Giovanni Conterno or Bruno Giacosa. While the modern-era Montalcino has seen a rush to French barrique and less time in wood, Soldera continues to age his Brunello for five years in large Slavonian oak tanks and vats, much as Biondi Santi might have done in their glory years. In fact, when you ask him who the other great Italian winemakers are, they are virtually all names from the past, including the fathers of Conterno and Gaja.
Soldera’s wines combine great concentration, richness and aromatic complexity with classic structure. For us, along with Diego Molinari’s tiny Cerbaiona estate, they truly are the elite wines of Brunello.
All Soldera wines are subtle variations on the same theme. His most famous wines are his Brunellos and Brunello Riservas. But in some years, he will select part of his production to spend a year less in barrel. These he calls “Intistieti.” And in 2005, he decided to bottle a one early-maturing barrel as Pegasos.
Parker 96p/ Soldera's 2001 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is just as it was when I tasted it from barrel last year, which is to say monumental. This silky-textured Brunello offers an array of crushed flowers, spices and deeply-layered dark red fruit in a style that manages to be both delicate and powerful at the same time. Deceptively medium-bodied at this stage, it appears to be holding back much of its potential but will be a remarkable wine in another decade or so. This is a superb effort from Montalcino's most eccentric producer. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031.