Gianfranco Soldera, Dedicated and Outspoken Brunello Winemaker, Dies at 82

The owner of Tuscany’s Case Basse winery suffered a heart attack while driving
Gianfranco Soldera, Dedicated and Outspoken Brunello Winemaker, Dies at 82
(Jon Wyand)
Feb 18, 2019

This story was updated Feb. 20

Gianfranco Soldera, the outspoken winemaker and owner of Montalcino's Case Basse winery in Tuscany, died the morning of Feb. 16. According to Italian media reports, Soldera was driving on a road near Montalcino when he suffered a heart attack. Efforts to revive him at the scene were unsuccessful. He was 82.

Born in Treviso, Soldera was working as a successful insurance broker in Milan in 1972 when he and his wife, Graziella, went looking for a wine estate. He found Case Basse, near the town of Tavernelle in Montalcino. There were no vines, but Soldera believed the poor soils on the hillside were ideal for Sangiovese. He gradually planted 22 acres, farming the land without chemical pesticides. In the cellars, he took a traditional approach, aging his wines in very large Slavonian oak vats called botti.


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.


Soldera was one of Montalcino's most opinionated winemakers, unafraid of criticizing his neighbors when he felt their wines weren't up to Brunello's standards. He also strongly opposed proposals to allow grapes other than Sangiovese into Rosso di Montalcino. His own wines attracted a devoted group of fans.

In 2012, Soldera confronted tragedy when a disgruntled former employee broke into the Case Basse cellar at night and opened the taps on the botti, destroying the equivalent of more than 6,000 cases of wine from the 2007 to 2012 vintages. The employee, Andrea di Gisi, was later convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. The crime left Soldera with less wine to sell, but when the Brunello Consorzio offered to donate wine from other members' properties to create a special cuvée Soldera could sell, the vintner resigned from the organization, stating he believed such a cuvée would trick consumers.

Soldera is survived by his wife, two children and several grandchildren.

Obituaries Italy Tuscany Brunello di Montalcino News

You Might Also Like

Meadowood Resort, Newton, Burgess and Behrens Among Napa Wildfire’s Many Victims

Meadowood Resort, Newton, Burgess and Behrens Among Napa Wildfire’s Many Victims

The Glass Incident fires have consumed more than 42,500 acres, with historic wineries and …

Sep 28, 2020
Fast-Moving Wildfires Erupt in Napa, Spread to Sonoma, Striking Another Blow to 2020 Harvest

Fast-Moving Wildfires Erupt in Napa, Spread to Sonoma, Striking Another Blow to 2020 Harvest

St. Helena's Château Boswell has burned and Hourglass and Tuck Beckstoffer are among the …

Sep 27, 2020
The French Laundry Launches Lavish Indoor-Dining Experience

The French Laundry Launches Lavish Indoor-Dining Experience

The Napa Grand Award winner’s new offering features coveted Champagne and opulent add-ons …

Sep 24, 2020
Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises $1.17 Million with Online Bidding

Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises $1.17 Million with Online Bidding

The wine country charity auction forged ahead with a virtual event, auctioning exclusive …

Sep 23, 2020
Zachys Auctions Rare Wines from Italy's Enoteca Pinchiorri

Zachys Auctions Rare Wines from Italy's Enoteca Pinchiorri

The 2,500-bottle consignment from the Grand Award–winning restaurant fetched $4.1 million, …

Sep 22, 2020
'Drink the Best in House Arrest' Wins Wine Spectator's 2020 Video Contest

'Drink the Best in House Arrest' Wins Wine Spectator's 2020 Video Contest

The Campione family members get their first win, and share the inspiration for their …

Sep 22, 2020