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Powell taken to court over Laird slur

Dave Powell, founder of Barossa Valley-based wine estate Torbreck, has been taken to court by the company’s owner, Pete Kight.

According to The Australian Financial Review, Kight took Powell to the Federal Court last month over comments Powell made to clients in an email about the 2009 vintage of Torbreck’s top wine, The Laird.

In the email, Powell claimed that The Laird 2009 is “unsalable at the high price (we) command for it,” due to high levels of volatile acidity.

At the Federal Court, Powell was ordered to hand over his computer and was barred from using Torbreck’s client mailing list.

Powell and Kight fell out in August after Powell’s five-year contract as managing director and chief winemaker of the company he founded in 1994 wasn’t renewed.

Powell is planning a new venture in the Barossa with his son Callum, who is currently studying winemaking in the Rhône with Jean-Louis Chave.

The 2008 vintage of The Laird, made from old vine Shiraz, currently has a market value of over £500 a bottle.

Torbreck was taken over by Pete Kight, the American owner of California’s Quivira Vineyards, five years ago for a reported US$20.5m.

“I have been accused of playing the victim, of being dishonest, of being reckless with company money.

“If I’m a victim it’s of my own stupidity in signing that deal in the first place,” Powell said in a statement last month defending his departure from Torbreck.

However Kight is reported to tell a different side to the story, with claims of Powell’s “erratic” behaviour and running up an A$92,000 tab in a Danish strip club.

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