Bibi Graetz is a freak for old vines. Many of his wines are sourced from some of the oldest vineyards in Tuscany and his flagship red, Testamatta is no exception. Testamatta means “Crazy Head” in Italian and is often a colloquial expression used to describe someone with a strong personality and boundless creativity. It fits Graetz well.
It’s hard to believe its been 6 years since I checked in on Testamatta and in that time, a lot has changed for Graetz. Originally housed in the Castello di Vincigliata, Graetz’s restless nature has compelled him to relocate his winery to the center of Fiesole. In April of 2019, Graetz acquired the dilapidated Hotel Aurora. His intention is to live on the first floor with his family while his barrique cellar resides directly below him. Graetz is loathe rest on his laurels. In fact, in describing his decision to leave Vincigliata, he says, “I guess I’m never satisfied. The fact is, we’ve been successful with our wines, but we’re still at the beginning and there’s still a lot to do. You need to put yourself out there.”
Testamatta embodies that nature.
The grapes for Testamatta are selected from the best 5 vineyards of the winery. Each vineyard is divided into distinct parcels from which Graetz harvests up to 8 times to ensure that the grapes are picked at the perfect ripening point. The 5 vineyards are up to 80 years of age and located in different areas of Tuscany. As a result, it is hard to pin down a “terroir” that Testamatta reflects.
The Lamole and Montefili vineyards lie in the heart of Chianti Classico. Vincigliata is near Firenze while Londa sits north of Firenze near the Rufina valley. The final vineyard is south of Siena. After the initial harvest, the grapes are sorted a second time at the winery. Fermentation is conducted by natural and indigenous yeasts, in open top barriques (225L) without any temperature control. Graetz himself conducts 6 manual punch-downs per day. After 7-10 days of maceration, the different vineyard parcels are moved into old barriques for 2 years.
The 2016 Bibi Graetz Testamatta is a brilliant ruby with violet reflections. Given the vintage, I expected a substantial amount of aromatics to be present in this wine. However, that was not the case. We did not decant the wine and that was probably to its detriment. As I alluded above, the broad based sourcing of fruit for this wine leaves it without a specific identity. What it has, is an elegant and feminine aristocracy about it. Like a fine Florentine woman.
Aromas of crushed cherry are joined by toasted spice and slight tobacco notes. On the palate, this is restrained and doesn’t seem happy at being uncorked. The racy, somewhat lean berry fruit is framed with dusty tobacco laced tannins, cracked pepper and savory herb notes. After about 90 minutes, Testamatta began to plump. It became rounder, juicier and almost more playful. While I’m certain decanting will help, I don’t believe this wine is at a stage where I would plan to try it. My remaining bottles will be buried until 2026. I’ve enjoyed this wine very much in the past. Therefore, I’m not too worried about it’s evolution. However, as a result of its awkward stage, a range is appropriate here. 90-95 points. About $70 but price varies widely. Find this wine.
Have thoughts on Testamatta or some of Bibi Graetz’s other whimsical wines like Soffocone? Share them in the comments section.