monica soldera

On a barrel tasting visit to Soldera's Casse Basse two years ago, manager Monica dsc07462Soldera , Gianfranco's daughter, admonished us not to spit out the wines.  "Not a drop must be wasted ," she said.  A  tour of the organic and biodynamic vineyards convinced me that indeed it would be sinful. Little did I know that I would be one of the few who had tasted the precious vintages that were laid to waste after an act of vandalism which took place two weeks ago (read stories below).   Listen to an interview with Monica Soldera...

Photos: Left - Monica Soldera at the impeccably pristine winery Casse Basse. Right - Monica Soldera in the garden leading to the biodynamic vineyards. (By Simone Zarmati Diament - South Florida Gourmet- Montalcino)

By AFP | Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Italian police on Tuesday arrested a former employee of the Brunello di Montalcino winery Case Basse for draining barrels worth millions of euros in a case that has shaken up the tranquil Tuscan hills.

Andrea Di Gisi was caught after police bugged his car.

They heard him telling his nephew he had washed wine stains off the jeans he wore on the night he broke into the cellar at the Case Basse château.

Police said De Gisi had acted out of revenge after receiving several reprimands, and after the estate's manager allocated housing he wanted to another employee.

Di Gisi, who has a criminal record for theft, is accused of draining 62,600 liters of the Brunello di Montalcino wine in an act that effectively wiped out all the winery's vintages between 2007 and 2012.

Montalcino Mayor Silvio Franceschelli and Brunello Consortium leader Fabrizio Bindocci thanked the police, saying the arrest had restored "serenity."

"This was a vile and unimaginable act," they said in a statement, condemning initial reports that had linked the case to organized crime.

 

Apparent breakthrough suggests vendetta by former employee.

By Diana Goodman | Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Italian media say police are close to an arrest over the attack on a Brunello winery during which 62,600 liters of wine were poured into the sewers.

The attack on the Case Basse winery – a leading producer of Brunello di Montalcino – happened overnight on December 2, when the intruder, or intruders, opened the taps on the barrels holding the wine.

La Repubblica said the suspect was a former Case Basse employee, whom investigators had located in an unspecified area of Montalcino.

Any link to organized crime had been ruled out. Instead, the newspaper said, the crime appeared to be an act of retaliation by the former worker, and "the final word on the ugly affair" was expected in the next few days.

The weekly news magazine Panorama confirmed that the anti-Mafia directorate in Florence had excluded the "bleaker scenario" of Mafia involvement. It said the saboteur had broken a window of the winery's cellar to gain access before opening the valves of 10 Oak barrels, allowing wine from the last six harvests to flow into the gutters and then into the sewers.

First estimates put the loss at around 2.5 million euros ($3.25 million). However, Panorama suggested the real figure was well over 10 million euros ($13 million) when calculated as the loss of more than 83,000 bottles due to be sold at over 130 euros ($169) each.

The magazine added that early investigations had followed three tracks: a possible Mafia connection; revenge for the so-called Brunellogate scandal, in which some local producers were investigated over the use of grapes other than Sangiovese, resulting in a downgrade to simple IGT status; and a vendetta by a former Case Basse worker.

Panorama reported that as a result of the attack, vintages of the Case Basse Brunello wine that had been destroyed would now become a rarity. The winery's owner, Gianfranco Soldera, told the magazine that all he had left from those vintages was some wine that had been kept back in smaller barrels for decanting and topping up.

A report in Il Corriere revealed that other winemakers belonging to the Brunello consortium of producers had offered to donate some of their own wines to Gianfranco Soldera, but he had refused.

Soldera suggested that instead, funds raised by the sale of the wine should be used for research at the University of Siena into the Sangiovese grape.

The newspaper said Soldera had suspended sales of Case Basse wines in an attempt to ward off speculators. However, it added that because of "the cynicism of the market, in fact it was immediately evident."

Il Corriere said that on both sides of the Atlantic, prices for the remaining bottles of the 2006 vintage – the last to reach the market – had shot up, reaching $1,300 in the United States. On Wine-Searcher's database the wine had an average U.S. price of $300 ex-tax last month, but it has risen in recent days to $360. However, many suppliers are now sold out, with a fall in the number of companies worldwide holding bottles of the wine in stock.

Il Corriere also printed a statement from the Soldera family in which they thanked people from around the world for offering help and sympathy after the attack. These expressions of solidarity, reaching across geographical boundaries, had left the family "amazed, moved and proud ... An invisible but unbreakable bond joins us now to those who share our values, who are outraged by this cruel insult to the work and passion, to those of us who want to react going forward without surrendering our principles."

The statement added that the suspension of sales was necessary because "while respecting the freedom of operators in the sector," it was important for Case Basse to prevent speculators from depriving wine lovers of the opportunity to enjoy the wines.

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