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2018 Colore & Testamatta
Bibi Graetz

In the space of just 20 years, artist, turned self-taught winemaker, Bibi Graetz has established himself in the highest echelons of the Tuscan wine-making firmament. His top two wines are included in Wine Advocate's 'Tuscan Ten'. The wines are not traditional Chianti but unlike typical Super Tuscans, they don't feature international varieties either. The Testamatta is 100% Sangiovese, whilst the flagship Colore adds indigenous Tuscan varieties, Canaiolo 5% & Colorino 5% to the blend. Grapes are sourced from vines that are typically around 80 years old. Until recently, the wines were all made in the garage of a castle in Fiesole outside of Florence but now there is a purpose built winery and things are very definitely on the up.

Such small volumes were produced in 2017 that Graetz has decided to skip the vintage and move straight from 2016 to 2018. 

2018 Testamatta, Bibi Graetz

120 Bot @ £420 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
6 Mag @ £140 each, in bond
1 Double Mag @ £310 in bond

The 2018 Testamatta shows elegant Sangiovese purity and transparency, starting with delicate wild berry and blueberry tones and finishing long with pretty accents of crushed limestone and a touch of campfire ash. In the glass, the wine is radiant and vivid with a luminous ruby or garnet color. Oak use is reduced to a bare minimum, with barrels that are up to their 16th year of use. "The older they are, the better," Bibi explains. As the wine opens in the glass, it presents pretty lilac and violet. This wine represents a blend of fruit from various sites (all with old vines that are farmed organically) across the region of Tuscany. The northern-most sites close to Florence tend to add the floral notes that are so characteristic of this cool vintage (which saw a bit more rain than average and extra work in the vineyards to kept these vines healthy). I visited the vineyards with Bibi in 2018 and remember how beautiful the grapes appeared on the vines. Much of the fruit used here comes from the Vigna del Cancello in Casciano del Murlo, which is midway between Siena and Montalcino. These southern sites give the wine its backbone and tannins. Bibi Graetz tells me that he struggled to create the blend for this 60,000-bottle release. He decided on a final blend, only to change his mind and re-blend two and a half months later. His second stab was specifically aimed at capturing finesse and softening the wine's tannic imprint. Indeed, the wine ultimately offers more in length (with fresh fruit flavors and bright acidity) than it does in power or mid-palate. The finish is silky, long and very fine. 2022-2042
94 points Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

Very subtle aromas of cherries, bark, black truffles and flowers. Hints of crushed stones. It’s full-bodied, yet very tight and solid with a very tight, minerally structure. Very long and intense. Racy and bright at the end. Powerful, orange-peel and citrus-fruit undertones. Salty and minerally. This needs time to develop in the bottle. Extremely structured. A wine not to touch until after 2023.
97 points James Suckling


 

2018 Colore, Bibi Graetz

24 Bot @ £540 per 3 Bot Case, in bond
1 Mag @ £385 in bond

Compared to the Testamatta that proved more difficult during the blending phase, Bibi Graetz's 2018 Colore came together without a hitch, as he tells it. With this vintage, the Colore (with 9,000 bottles produced) has almost become a single-vineyard wine, since up to 90% of its fruit comes from old vines (these are majestic plants from 80 to 135 years old) in the high-altitude Lamole area where Bibi farms five hectares. The addition of Colorino to this Sangiovese-based wine has been reduced to a mere 5% in this vintage: "Just like a touch of lipstick," Bibi says. The Colorino grape adds noticeable lift and buoyancy in this vintage. Next to the Testamatta, you get more structure and backbone here, with deep and penetrating red berry fruit, ruby cherry, crushed aspirin, ferrous earth, crushed flowers and some of the fragrant steeping herbs used in Fernet-Branca. My only hesitation is that the wine takes long to yield on the bouquet, and I coaxed two bottles of Colore over two days before writing this note. As a result, I recommend pushing the drinking window forward by a few extra years to give the wine time to flesh out and open fully. 2022-2045
97 points Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

What intense aromas of cherries and raspberries! Then it turns to flowers and orange peel. Roses, too. This is really full and powerful with layers of ripe tannins. It’s super fine-tannined, but shows wonderful length and intensity. A great expression of Lamole in Chianti Classico with ancient vines. Some older than 100 years. Best ever? Superb. Try after 2024 and onwards.
99 points James Suckling
 

Graetz – who is half Norwegian and half Israeli – looks for richness, yet finesse, and great length and depth in his wines. His wines age really well, even though the first vintage of Testamatta was 2000. Graetz has an affinity for old vines, particularly indigenous grape types such as sangiovese, colorino, and colore. There’s always a touch of genius in his reds and whites.
- James Suckling

 

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