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Police Arrest Former Winery Employee in Probe on Montalcino Raid

Italian police arrested a former employee of a Tuscan winery who allegedly destroyed 62,600 liters (16,537 gallons) of Brunello di Montalcino after he was fired from his job.

The 39-year-old man from Rome “is accused of vandalism” and “had been working for the winery for about five years before being fired last month after disagreements about his performance,” Colonel Marco Grandini of the carabinieri military police in Siena said in a telephone interview. A number of controls proved that his mobile phone was on the scene of the crime when it happened, Grandini said.

In a Dec. 2 raid on the winery in Montalcino, 70 miles (113 kilometers) southwest of Florence, the man allegedly opened the valves of 10 barrels containing six vintages of Brunello, some of which had been aging since 2007, the police said. Just the 2007 vintage, which was ready to be bottled as Brunello, was worth at least 2.5 million euros ($3.3 million), the police said.

Brunello, one of Italy’s best known and most expensive red wines, is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes according to standards set in 1888. The wine is aged in oak casks for five years before it can be bottled.

The loss of the wine resulted in “considerable economic damage,” Gianfranco Soldera, the winery’s owner, said in a statement posted on the company’s website on Dec. 4. Soldera said that his most recent vintage from 2006 had a wholesale price of 110 euros a bottle.

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