Brunello producer Gianfranco Soldera has been expelled from the local Consorzio and sued for libel over newspaper remarks made in connection with sabotage at his winery.
Disgruntled former employee Andrea Di Gisi was jailed recently for four years for breaking into Soldera’s Case Basse winery and draining vats containing 62,600 litres of maturing Brunello di Montalcino from the past six vintages.
Following the vandalism in December last year, fellow producers and members of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino offered to donate ‘wine of solidarity’ to Soldera to compensate him for his loss.
But, speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera after the court case, Soldera dismissed the gesture as ‘inadmissible and offensive, a fraud to the consumers’.
Announcing his resignation from the Consorzio, Soldera added: ‘They wanted to give me their wine: I would have had to bottle it as if it were my own, not knowing where it came from.’
Now the board of the Consorzio has decided to expel Soldera immediately – his resignation would have taken effect only in 2015 – thanks to his ‘highly improper behaviour’.
And they are filing a suit for libel with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Milan following a request to take action against Soldera, ‘voiced in unison by the winemakers’.
‘We consider the lawsuit a necessary course of action to safeguard the image of the winemakers, of Brunello wine and of the entire territory of Montalcino,’ said Fabrizio Bindocci, chairman of the Consorzio.
‘We feel deeply offended and damaged by these and other negative statements on the Consorzio and the winemakers made by Mr Soldera following the event that struck him.’
Bindocci said it was ‘incomprehensible’ that Soldera had labelled as ‘fraud’ something intended as a ‘symbolic gesture of solidarity’.
Gianfranco Soldera did not respond to Decanter.com’s request to comment.
Written by Richard Woodard