Soldera vandalized, 600 hectoliters destroyed

If you’ve landed here, please check out the update here.

brunello mafia

Above: I took this photo of Gianfranco Soldera in his cellar in September 2010, the last time I tasted with him.

According to a report first published today by and then reposted by Franco Ziliani, “vandals” destroyed more than 600 hectoliters of Gianfanco Soldera’s wines last night.

After entering the cellar, they simply opened the valves of the large-format oak casks and let the wine pour out on to the cellar floor.

The report, which was based on Soldera’s own account, states that his entire production from 2007-2012 was lost.

No other damage or theft was reported.

Observers of the Italian wine industry have already begun to speculate that this act of vandalism fits the classic model for extortion by organized crime.

I’ll continue to report on this tragic episode as more information comes to light.

22 thoughts on “Soldera vandalized, 600 hectoliters destroyed

    • Of course the comparison with The Titanic is totally out of proportion but an understandably reactionary comment: This is tragic but certainly not a tragedy. A better simile would be the wanton looting and burning of Peking’s Summer Palace in 1860 – a deliberate act of destruction that shocked the world but affected only the privileged few. In the case of the latter – the Emperor and his concubines, for the former – those Brunello devotees fortunate enough to be able to find and afford Gianfranco’s peerless (£150+) wines. Like all things its a question of persective – i.e. knowing I’ll never getting to taste his 2010 Casa Basse is a profoundly depressing personal realisation; but made pitifully irrelevant in comparison to the loss of 6 years of hard work, unrivalled artistry and considerable revenue of one the truly great men of Tuscan winemaking.

  1. this is absolutely terrible, but as someone wisely said to me: never cry over something that can’t cry back. Terrible, yes. Tragic? well, if this is tragic, what’s worse than “tragic” to describe (say) what’s going on in Syria?

    • You might say it’s “just” wine, but this is five years of someone’s work–of their sustenance, of the way they make a living. I doubt his family would agree that this isn’t tragic. (Also, the “nothing is worthy of complaint because human-rights atrocities exist” argument is a cheap card trick, as well as a discourse-killer.)

      • Hi Clarke,

        Thanks for responding. I didn’t say it was “just” wine and I completely agree that it’s terrible that 5 years of someone’s labor is lost. Like an artist’s loft that burns, or like the loss of retirement funds for a huge number of people post-2008 for just following the advice of people they trusted.

        I guess I’m trying to preserve the word “tragic” for human loss of any sort (why I said I try not to cry about something that can’t cry back). Everything else is eventually replaceable.

        best wishes.

  2. I have heard many terrible things that have happened in the world of wine, this is certainly one of the most shocking. I cannot even put into words how this makes me feel. Insane…GS

  3. Evil. How do you extort from someone you just possibly bankrupted? Hopefully the vines were not harmed and the wine was insured.

  4. I had the pleasure of dining with Gianfranco while tasting through his 2003 vintage at the 2010 VinItaly. The vintage, which was by all accounts HOT, MODERN, FLABBY….his wines were the opposite and incredible. He spoke of other producers and humbly noted that Gravner Ribolla 1999 was the best Italian White Wine ever made….he spoke of the falsification of Chianti and Brunello (why a purist like he was targeted is so unfortunate)…he signed my copy of his book “Betwixt Nature and Passion” and wrote to my son:” Dear Aidan- I hope you love wine as much as your Father. You must know that to understand wine, you must walk in the vineyards. A metaphor for life.”
    Very few Vignerons or people are more genuine. A sad loss on so many levels.

  5. Pingback: Vandals wash away 600 hectolitres of Soldera Brunello from 2007-2012…. | il vino da tavola

  6. Vigliacchi!

    Rage and sadness are my feelings about it.

    Destroying 6 years of careful work is a crime that cannot remain unpunished.

    On my side, in addition to being close to Gianfranco, Graziella, Monica, Mauro and the whole team working at Case Basse, I will regret forever 6 vintages of one of the greatest wine in the world which cannot be replaced.

  7. Pingback: Soldera update: making sense of the unfathomable « Do Bianchi

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  10. Pingback: Soldera: “I’m not afraid. They picked the wrong man” to intimidate (Italian interview) « Do Bianchi

  11. This is a sad loss, but comeuppance is often tough to handle. Lets not forget the 2003 Brunello scandal. This type of “tragedy” typically does not befall the undeserving.

  12. Pingback: Reports of vandalism at Soldera — Jamie Goode's wine blog

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