The Consorzio of Brunello di Montalcino is to take legal action against producer Ginafranco Soldera over comments he made about the group to an Italian newspaper.
Gianfranco Soldera is being sued for libel
The libel suit, which will be filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Milan, refers to an interview published in the Corriere della Sera on 26 March.
During the interview, Soldera, who owns the 23-hectare Case Basse estate in Montalcino, spoke of the attack at his winey last December when six vintages of his wines were lost when a former employee opened the taps to the barrels.
Responding to the news, the Brunello Consorzio called for donations of “solidarity wine” to be given to the Soldera family to use at its discretion.
Soldera described the proposal in the Corriere della Sera as “inadmissible, offensive, and a real fraud to the consumers”.
“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,” he told the newspaper.
Fabrizio Bindocci, chairman of the Consorzio, outlined the reasoning behind the libel suit in a statement.
“We consider the lawsuit a necessary course of action to safeguard the image of Brunello wine, its winemakers, and the entire region of Montalcino,” he said.
“We feel deeply offended and damaged by these and other negative statements about the Consorzio and its winemakers made by Soldera following the attack.
“It’s incomprehensible to label as fraudulent a gesture that Soldera himself said he ‘highly appreciated’ in a press release.
“Our proposal was meant as a symbolic gesture of solidarity given that Soldera’s estate had suffered great damage due to the act of vandalism.
“The winemakers in the Consorzio were united in their wish to take action against someone who offends the reputation and work of each one of them,” he added.
In addition to the libel suit, Soldera has also been permanently expelled from the Brunello Consorzio on the grounds of “highly improper behaviour”.
While he announced he was to resign last month, Soldera would have been a member of the group until 2015.
“Soldera’s comments in the Corriere della Sera and his groundless inferences made during the interview have considerably damaged the image of Brunello and its territory,” Bindocci concluded.
In March, former Case Basse employee Andrea Di Gisi was sentenced to four years in prison for destroying 62,600 litres of the estate’s Brunello last December.