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DRC owner ‘sadness’ at blackmailer death

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti owner Aubert de Villaine has spoken of his sadness and dismay following the suicide of the man charged with blackmailing his estate.

Jacques Soltys, 57, was found hanged last Friday in toilets adjoining his prison cell in Dijon, Burgundy.

He was awaiting trial for an extortion attempt against DRC and also Domaine de Vogüé in nearby Chambolle-Musigny.

His son will now stand trial alone as an accomplice in the two cases.

‘I hope that a trial will be dropped now,’ Villaine told decanter.com.

‘The son has many problems to resolve, which is why he has been allowed free on bail, and it’s all very sad.’

He added, ‘I understand the interest it has created but I’d rather not comment on this sorry affair any further.’

Soltys, who spent two years studying wine-making, sent two letters to DRC managers in January threatening to poison the 1.8-hectare vineyard, and demanding €1m ransom. He was later caught in a police ‘sting’.

Dijon vice-prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot told decanter.com a case would be brought against the son, who she described as aged in his late 20s, but no trial date was yet fixed.

Domaine de Vogüé estate manager Jean-Luc Pepin said staff were now more vigilant in surveillance of the vines but that it was impossible to keep a vineyard closed from visitors.

On the prospects of a trial, he told decanter.com: ‘On the one hand, it would serve as a warning against anyone with similar ideas, but I can imagine that the degree of the son’s involvement could now argue in favour of dropping charges. But that’s a decision for justice officials.’

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Written by Graham Tearse in Paris

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