~ Winemaker Bibi Graetz in his Cantina ~

In the hills Northeast of Florence lies the charming town of Fiesole.  Despite it’s relatively small size, Fiesole is well traveled for it boasts some of the most amazing views of Firenze one could imagine.  It’s a gem.

From these hills, Bibi Graetz farms approximately 6 hectares of vineyards around the Tuscan town of Fiesole.  The vineyards are old and many of the vines are 60-75 years of age. Graetz insists that the flavors in the wines are more intense as a result of the vine age and he has been called a “freak for old vines” by many.
Each of his vineyards are organically farmed and only natural methods are used to care for the grapes and the vines.  Ironically, the grapes that are used to produce Testamatta do not come from the oldest vineyards he farms.  That distinction belongs to a wine called “Colore” which is unfortunately $500 per bottle on average. And no, I did not add an extra zero to that price.

~ The view of Firenze from Fiesole ~

Testamatta is 100% Sangiovese from clay and galestro vineyards that are at least 35 years old.  The wine is fermented in open topped wooden casks and then aged in French oak for 18 months. According to Graetz, “everything is natural from the vineyards to the cellars.  Native yeasts, no added sulfites, a pure natural expression of Sangiovese.”  Graetz adds that the hallmark of Testamatta is that it “retains a wonderful balance between fruit and structure but is still very elegant with lots of finesse.”   We agree.

~ Wines fermenting in open topped barrique in the Testamatta Cantina.  Graetz punches down the caps manually every day; 6 to 8 times during fermentation  ~
The 2005 Testamatta, which means “Hot head” is an excellent wine from an oft disregarded vintage.  We decanted the wine for 60 minutes before dinner – no sediment was observed. 
In the glass, this 100% Sangiovese is a vibrant deep purple color.  It looks serious, brooding.  Initial aromas were enticing and meaty, with ash, smoke, and grilled and cured meat.  With further air time, aromas of crushed berry, tobacco, and flowers began to emerge. Complex and wonderful. 
On the palate, the wine displays incredible elegance and subtle power. The balance between the crushed fruit, tobacco, grilled meat and dried herb flavors is deftly woven.    It’s contemplative and the finish lasts forever.  Really an amazing bottle of red and sadly, my last.  Though I’ve got some 2006 still resting.   Not inexpensive by any means, but among it’s peers, it stands out.  94 points, about $75.


~ Served along side sauteed morels, roasted pork chops and broccoli rabe: The perfect pairings ~

 E vero!

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