Vandals pour $17 million worth of Italian wine on the floor

·Contributing Writer

A team of culinary sadists broke into a Tuscan vineyard and poured 80,000 bottles of one of Italy's top wines onto the floor.

As the Guardian reports, nighttime marauders broke into Case Basse winery in Montalcino and destroyed over 62,000 litres of their prized Brunello di Montalcino.

Produced from the sangiovese grape, the wine is considered one of the finest in a country of fine wines and can sell for up to $220 per bottle. The vandals wiped out six vintages — from 2007 to 2012 — resulting in an estimated loss of around $17 million.

What's worse, the wine has to mature for four years before it's ready for bottling, which means Case Basse owners Gianfranco and Graziella Soldera won't have a sip to their name until 2016.

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"We cannot come to terms with what happened," Mauro Soldera, the couple's son, tells Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"We've never been involved in controversy and we've never received threats. We've suffered a serious blow, not just in economic terms. But we will not give up, the estate will survive."

Italy counts 250 producers of the valuable red wine amongst its ranks, and Soldera has gone on record saying he could produce four times the amount of Brunello di Montalcino were he not so scrupulous about his standards.

The comment may rankle rival producers, particularly after a 2008 controversy that saw authorities crack down on a fellow Brunello vintner who was accused of "cutting" his sangiovese grapes with less valuable grape varieties.

Since the 2008 incident, the government has mounted an official panel to monitor the purity of the wine.

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Though Soldera has referred to the break-in as a "mafia-style act" there's no indication that organized crime syndicates were involved in the incident.

And sadly, this is not the first time gorgeous wines have been destroyed in the name of crime.

Another European red found itself prey to vandalism earlier this year, although these plunderers went straight to the source and cut down 2,000 young vines of future Merlot at Chateau Labat just north of Bordeaux, France.

Owner François Nony suspected it to be the work of a local gang, while wine lovers across the world suspected it to be the work of unconscionable barbarians.

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