from Winell Korea
From canvases to vineyards to create “Colore”
The vertical tasting of “Colore” on April 2021 made us travel through the first twenty years of Bibi Graetz’s vigneron. 15 vintages of Colore, 6 countires around the world to celebrate the Iconic wine of Bibi Graetz. James Suckling from Hong Kong leading the tasting with his palate and experience, on the other side of the screen 5 countries connected that tasted the wines together. Seoul with top 3 wine journalists , Zurich, with press and private collectors hosted in the prestigious wine shop of ARVI, Bordeaux with 14 top Negociants from the exclusive distribution system of “La Place”, London, with an inconic Fine-Wine merchant and press and Florence, with Bibi Graetz and a pool a wine journalists. The result has been an amazing tasting, the first held simultaneously in 6 countries. Colore showed the potential of aging and the different nuances of every vintage.
As James Suckling reported “Tuscany’s iconoclastic wine producer, Bibi Gratez, organized a global Zoom tasting last Friday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his red Colore that featured all the vintages of his Super Tuscan blend. The tasting was held at the same time in Hong Kong @jamessucklingwinecentral, Seoul, Florence, Bordeaux and Zurich. The vintages of Colore ranged from 2000 (the first year) to 2018. I thought his current wines showed the best in the tasting suggesting that the evolution to using more sangiovese in the blend from colorino and cannaiolo gave better focus, intensity and character to the wines. In the beginning the wine had only a tiny amount of sangiovese. In addition, Bib has focused on more in recent years on old-vine grapes in the Chianti Classico region near the village of Lamole, which gives it unique structure and vivacity. If you have bottles of old vintages they are all delicious to drink now and will continue to improve with age”
james suckling central
Bibi Graetz is 53 years old, he has his wife Benedicta and four children, and has always lived surrounded by beauty. His father, an Israeli, is a sculptor of international importance, his mother is Norwegian and daughter of artists. He was born and raised in the castle of Vincigliata, in Fiesole, which dominates Florence. The last of four children, he attended the artistic high school of Florence as it was innate to him to confront with art.
"I devoted myself to an instinctive, gestural painting - he tells us - digging into the canvas and then filling it with colours. My primary colours".
At the age of 25, upon his family’s request, he started taking care of the castle by organizing events, concerts, cultural activities and more. "I said I would agree to run the castle, but that it would only be for a limited time, not forever." In a few years, with his energy, Bibi turned Vincigliata in an important multicultural pole for Florence, hosting over 130 initiatives a year!
Bibi Graetz comes from an artistic background, but when, at the end of the last century, he decides to dedicate himself to the family vineyard in Vincigliata, he put himself out there for it . And his sweat, too. On the hills of Fiesole lies the 2 hectare vineyard of very old vines, from 30 to 80 years old, those venerated and emphasised on the labels as ‘vieilles vignes’ by the French, something like a nobility certificate. At 300m of altitude, this soil is dominated by clay and marl and faces north-east.
But what brings wine and art together, what do they have to say to each other? "Wine is not just agriculture. It is aesthetics, fragrances, flavours, colours. It gives us the opportunity to express concepts, to adapt nature to our goals and even to our dreams. And it is therefore creativity and communication. Wine is something that, as it evolves, can last through the years. It is civilization and it is history. Wine is art."
At the beginning Bibi makes his first trials relying on the advice of his dear friend, a great expert in vineyards and cellars. Right from the start, he reads the vine and the wine according to his artistic canons, his vitality and a pinch of the unconsciousness typical of out of ordinary people.
It was 2000 when his journey made of passion began. "I simply said to my friend and enologist: I want to make the most beautiful wine in the world." Yes, not the best wine, but the most beautiful. Because, after all, Bibi already knew that this was his way. And he made it. The first year, at his first harvest, his wine was already recommended among the best in Italy by the most prestigious guides. At the second harvest, in 2001, at the Vinexpo in Bordeaux it was appointed as the best red wine in the world. “ Wine made it possible to express myself, it was a goal to pursue day after day. That ‘game’ would become my life”.
Bibi has the determination and stubbornness of the Burgundian vigneron, peculiar to those who have clear ideas and know exactly what goal they want to achieve. The term comes from "vigne ronde" and underlines the fact that the vigneron actually takes care of the vineyard first-hand while the winegrower simply manages it while other people work.
His virtue in viticulture is to observe: this is the key element to understand the vines in front of you. "I used to tie every single branch radially. Fifteen centimetres from each other so that they could be sun-drenched and express themselves. It was 2003 when my agronomist said there was no vineyard in Italy worked as mine." A boutique vineyard, as many people now call it.
Right from the start, Bibi puts his personal convictions into practice. In the vineyard he takes care of the vines one by one, inspects them and studies them with passion. In the cellar he wants all fermentations to take place in open barriques, fascinated by the emotion of being able to touch and see the grapes during their evolution. Mario Incisa also did it with his first Sassicaia, inspired by Margaux, but not by the artistic instinct as Bibi does. The result is there for everyone to see: the wine is meaty, succulent, but with the elegance of the Burgundian style.
The maniacal care of the vineyard also bears its fruits in 2003, despite being one of the hottest summers they remember. There come also new woods, barriques that must be used with the velvet glove for “Colore”, to avoid excess of vanilla and spicy aromas, very fashionable in those years. The model for this wine is Burgundy and not Bordeaux.
In 2004 the vineyards of Siena are added. An incredible hummock at an altitude of 350 m, on the top of which some beautiful round stones Bibi fell in love with come out from the ground, as if pouring out of a fountain.
After dedicating 3 years full-time to wine, this was the first vintage Bibi created first-hand his assemblages and the result was even more extraordinary.
“Testamatta” 2006 (his other cult wine) is “Wine of the Year” for the Wine Spectator. Bibi Graetz is now part of the history of Tuscan and world wine.
In 2008 he discovered an incredible vineyard on the hill of Lamole, the most beautiful vineyard in Tuscany and he fell in love with it: 80-years-old bush vines among olive trees , 650 m high on the roof of the Chianti Classico overlooking Panzano. The wines of this vineyard are amazing and give unique aromas and elegance to “Colore”.
The 2009 vintage is very important for the company’s history. The elegant burgundy wines of this vintage were a great source of inspiration for Bibi. From that moment a new evolution of his wines, all dedicated to elegance, transparency and crispness began.
Great distinction must be recognized to the harvesting system Bibi decided to apply. Up to 8 steps in the vineyard are done by manually harvesting only the perfectly ripe bunches. A second selection takes place in the cellar with triage tables per bunch and then per grape. For “Colores” the fermentation is spontaneous, without adding yeast, and always in open barriques, keeping all the vineyard parcels divided for two weeks.From 6 to 8 manual punching downs take place every day, without temperature control or saignée techniques; the maceration on the skins lasts for one more week after which the wine is transferred in very old barriques for the elevage. The final blend is decided by choosing the most beautiful barriques.
Since 2011, inspired by the millenary viticulture of Giglio island, no more toppings are made in order to satisfy the nature of the vine that always tends to bring its energy to the top of the branches. By doing so, instead of concentrating into the bunch, energy moves away naturally creating sparser and lighter bunches that produce more elegant and less concentrated wines.
Since 2015 the percentage of Sangiovese increases: 80% with Colorino and Canaiolo to 10% each, to move to 90% of Sangiovese in 2018 with the others to 5% each. From the 2015 vintage, the new vision of elegance of Bibi’s wines is fully expressed, bringing it closer and closer to the world of Burgundy.
Now that his vineyards are scattered over 50 hectares and the wines they produce are famous all over the world, Bibi faces a new challenge. Two years ago he has bought in the centre of Fiesole, in front of the Duomo, an ancient villa overlooking Florence where kings and queens, as Victoria of England, the Dutch and Belgian Royals and Margaret of Savoy, have sojourned. An urban Chateau. A brand new concept for Tuscany and Italy in the style of the great French Maison. All in one place. Here he built his cellar, here he will welcome customers and tastings will be organized, here he will move with his big family. The connection among the beauty of places, affections and wines will become even closer. Because Bibi is an artist. And not only wine, but life itself, can become art.