What I most remember about Gianfranco Soldera was the conviction attached to every word he spoke. Over a lunch in 2015, I mentioned Burgundy. Without a second's hesitation he sublimely returned, ‘Since the soils are no good there they’d be better off growing potatoes.’ Most of us hope to possess our convictions more courageously as we age, though Gianfranco’s astonishing absolutism was another thing entirely. He spoke with the authority of a God.
His passing in early 2019 leaves Tuscan wine without its most legendary advocate. Beyond the human loss, I fear his passing marks another small advance for the modern conception of wine as, primarily, a 'thing' to be analyzed. For Gianfranco, wine was life, and enjoying its pleasures as common and natural an act as breathing. That we might drink wine as a daily ritual of self love remains a wonderful bulwark against self-indulgent intellectualizing. His view of wine as a sharp point of entry into life's fullness was intoxicating.
And this ’18 is a fitting swan song. Mercurial, strong-willed, individual, it feels decades away from full maturity. But very few wines converge place and human intentionality so powerfully. This final testament is pure Sangiovese, pure Tuscany, and - somehow - pure Gianfranco.