Uncorkings: More Than 16,500 Gallons of Brunello di Montalcino Destroyed in a Suspected Act of Vandalism

Plus more news and notes from the world of wine and spirits.


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On Dec. 2, vandals allegedly broke into the cellar of owner Gianfranco Soldera’s Montalcino winery, Case Basse, and opened the spigots on casks containing maturing wine. More than 16,500 gallons from vintages 2007–2012 were lost. Nothing was said to have been stolen. Read Italian Editor Monica Larner’s perspective.

Delaware-based craft brewery Dogfish Head is set to release Birra Etrusca Bronze—a new beer in its Ancient Ales series—in December 2012. The brew is made using an amalgam of ingredients including heirloom Italian wheat and malted barley, plus hazelnut flour, pomegranate, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. To develop the recipe, Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern and worked with brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin to analyze drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.

One of the oldest vintages from Balblair’s single-malt portfolio has been released in the United States. Balblair 1969, which was aged for 43 years in American oak Bourbon casks, has been priced at $3,400/700 ml.

Château de Bellevue, an 18th-century château in Yvrac, a wine-producing village in Bordeaux, was accidentally demolished, reported The Telegraph. As the 140,000-square-foot estate was due to undergo renovations, workers of the hired building firm were instructed only to raze a smaller structure on the property but inadvertently destroyed the historic edifice instead. All work on the site has ceased while local authorities investigate.

Matt Courtney has been named winemaker of Arista Winery in the Russian River Valley AVA in California, effective Jan. 1. Courtney previously worked at Marcassin Wine Company, where he served as assistant winemaker and cellarmaster. In 2004, he completed his degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis.

Wine critic and former Wine Enthusiast columnist Robert M. Parker Jr. has reportedly sold “a substantial interest” of his subscription-supported newsletter, The Wine Advocate. The new investors are said to be from Singapore, where the newly announced editor in chief, Lisa Perotti-Brown, MW, will be based. According to several reports, Parker will remain in place as one of the publication’s reviewers and will be the company’s chairman. Read Managing Editor Joe Czerwinski's perspective.

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