On Sunday December 2nd or early Monday December 3rd, there was a massacre at the Montalcino estate, Case Basse. Someone smashed through an unbreakable window and opened the spigots on the botti holding vintages 2007, 2008, 2009,2010, 2011, and the newest baby, 2012. The wines drained out until empty. When discovered in the morning, the floors must have been soaked and saturated with the color of bloodshed.
There were no lives lost. The substantial cost of the loss is covered by insurance. And yet I kept on thinking that this was a massacre.
Wine is raised like children, a wine is separated from its lees, as its separated from its mother (according to the Georgians, as least.) Because one the wine can be raised for up to five years, Gianfranco Soldera will be around 80 if he lives to see a vintage of his Brunello ever released into the world.
Gianfranco and Graziella Soldera first vintage was in 1975. 1997 was their first vintage of Brunello Riserva. I can't remember exactly when I had my first taste. I think I was doing a story on a restaurant in Boston and the owners gave me a bottle, "This is real," they said.
I didn't trust the guy. Then I opened the bottle two months later, I knew the truth-- an exquisite soulful wine. Priced out of my reach, I only was able to drink the wines at the graces of others.
There is speculation about why this happened. All suspicions point to retribution for the Soldera's part of Brunellogate. Do check out Jeremy Parzen's article.
It was a matter of time before Italy Big Wine took measures to prevent the competitive market that is now arriving. For years the big companies had had a stranglehold on the wine bars and resaurants of Italy. It was difficult to get a good drink anywhere--if everywhere was Florence, for example. I remember some restaurants who tried to put independent, small winemakers on their list got threats of fire or worse, unless they went back to the party line wine houses. I won't mention their names, but Jonathan Nossiter hinted around this in Mondovino.
Since 2006, though, the wine revolution has hit Italy. There is more variety available and more trouble on the horizon. This year we saw the Enoteca Bulzoni affair. The wine store in Rome was busted for having a section of 'natural wines.' Recently a friend of ours (royal we) in Gavi was busted for having a peach tree in the middle of his biodynamic vineyard, then he was fined a huge amount of euros for misguided labels. (stay tuned for that story.) My suspicions is that the money behind big Italian wine is not happy.
I emailed Francesca Padovani of Campi di Fonterenza who makes beautiful wines in Montalicino with her sister . "What is the word in town?" I asked her. She kindly wrote back.
It was a great shock for me to hear about what happened to Gianfranco Soldera.
My personal idea is as yours a clear revenge for what occurred in 2008 the big brunello scandal.
The reaction of the people here is very different. What I hate is that some people are hiding behind a finger saying that this is a safe place, there is a general mentality that reminds me of MAFIA idea of thinking.
Yes, here they don't kill you but they poison your animals or cut down your vines or come around your life and making you afraid, they write anonymous letters... well...
The message is strong and cruel and they went to the heart of this place. They touched the best wine producer , and raped him. the goal is to create FEAR. I am afraid, to be sincere but i am tired of this.
We need open and free thought. This action is touching every one .
Monica Larner has an interesting post on the Wine Enthusiast and speculates, one which was the possibility of this being an insurance fraud, strikes me as being terribly misguided. Because that would have been a man killing his children, of course the next step would have been suicide. Whether it is organized crime, a disgruntled employee or just an act of random madness, the tactic was Mafia-inspired.
There is late breaking news. It seems as if there's sizable evidence now pointing to an ex-employee, Francesca's brother reports.