Above: Gianfranco Soldera with his fermentation casks (I took this photo in 2008). Every time I’ve visited and tasted with him, he’s spoken of the importance of fermenting in wood, “a breathing” vessel, he said repeatedly.
Adding yet another unsavory wrinkle to the sad tale of the now infamous act of vandalism (or “sabotage,” as the Italian media has called it) that took place in December 2012 at the Case Basse winery in Montalcino (more than 60,000 liters of wine destroyed), the estate’s winemaker Gianfranco Soldera and Brunello consortium vicepresident Donatella Cinelli Colombini publicly traded barbs yesterday.
In an interview entitled “Why I am leaving the consortium,” posted online yesterday by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Soldera told editor Luciano Ferraro that the consortium had “wanted to donate wine to me. I was supposed to bottle it as if it were mine, without knowing where it came from. [This was] an unacceptable and offensive proposal, a swindling of the consumer. I asked them [instead] to finance studies in Montalcino. But nothing came of it.”
In a post on her family’s winery’s website entitled “What on earth is Soldera saying?”, Colombini swiftly returned the volley.
“The meanest thing,” she wrote yesterday, “is the accusation that the consortium ‘proposed a swindling [of the consumer].’ How could it be that the producers give him a gift [by donating] a part of their production to help him in a difficult moment, thus creating a ‘solidarity Brunello,’ and he responds in this manner? Isn’t he ashamed of himself?”
In a press release issued by the winery on Friday of last week, Soldera announced — without explanation — that he was leaving the consortium.
He also revealed that he was able to recover a considerable quantity of wine “at the time of the damage.” The winery will resume sales, he wrote (after news of the vandalism spread in December 2012, prices for his wine skyrocketed and he stopped selling and shipping wine from his estate).