Monday, December 3, 2012

Soldera Estate Vandalized

Gianfranco Soldera lost 5 years worth of Brunello today. Details are still unfolding.

Legendary producer Gianfranco Soldera had his Montalcino estate attacked by vandals last night.  As first reported by the Italian Wine News  the vandals opened the barrels in his aging cellar spilling five vintages (2007-2012) of Brunello onto the cellar floors and ruining years of love and labor.  

I had the pleasure to meet Gianfranco years ago at a trade tasting and he is a gentle, soft spoken yet staunchly passionate man. Passionate about the region and resolute in his beliefs of what Brunello should be.  This is an unfortunate senseless occurence for not only those who know Gianfranco, but for all lovers of wine and the culture and history that it represents.

Authorities are investigating potential motives.

Update: Authorities in Montalcino are reportedly investigating possible former disgruntled employees in this case and others who may have been angered with Soldera for being the "Whistle Blower" in the so called "Brunello-Gate" scandal.

Update 12/18/12: The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera is reporting today that an ex-employee has been arrested and charged with an "act of sabotage" related to the destruction of wine on the Soldera Estate. 

Postscript 2/8/2013: Authorities have received the confession of Andrea Di Grisi a former employee of Gianfranco Soldera who resented his boss, the legendary winemaker and owner at Soldera.

Di Grisi was fired earlier in the year after a heated argument with  Soldera when, despite Di Grisi's 5 years of service, Soldera allowed a new employee to move into housing on the Soldera property that Di Grisi had coveted.  An argument ensued, Di Grisi was dismissed on the spot and immediately began plotting his revenge.

Pasquale Aglieco, commander of the Siena Carabinieri, has announced that the police arrested Di Grisi for sabotage, and that the Rome native confessed to spilling about 85,000 bottles of Soldera’s wine, which was worth at least $6 million US dollars. “He was an angry man who knew exactly what he was doing,” Aglieco said.  “It was an act of unthinkable revenge.”

I've spoken to many Brunello producers since this tradegy happened. All share similar sentiment; that Soldera is a difficult man to work for and that he is not well liked in Montalcino. These may be the facts, but it doesn't warrant the sort of personal, wasteful, vengeance that was perpetrated. Producers are quick to draw the distinction that the tragedy is a shame for Soldera, but not for the town of Montalcino.  Regardless, let's hope nothing like this will be repeated again.

It will be 2018 before the next vintage of Soldera Brunello emerges on the market. 



  1. I have been several times in cellars and always wondered how easy it is to do a mistake and let all the big vats getting empty.

  2. Ciao Silvio,

    I agree, it's definitely not hard to do. Obviously this man was able to act by himself. It's sad really - all that effort and history to waste.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Grazie!