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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
20 Jun 2011

Last Monday night in Priorat, one of its most admired cellars, where one of South Africa's most famous winemakers Eben Sadie made his Dits del Terra wine, were vandalised in a shocking and senseless act. Sadie and his co-owners of the bodega, Dominik Huber and Jaume Sabaté, have issued the following statement:

On the night of the 13 June 2011, in the village of Torroja del Priorat (pictured), Spain, an appalling and almost unthinkable event took place at the cellar of the Terroir Al Limit winery. The cellar locks were broken open, and a terrible act of vandalism followed. The taps of some tanks were simply opened and wine allowed to flow out onto the floor. Many casks of wine in the cellar were ruined by contamination with household bleach. The owners of Terroir al Limit, Dominik Huber, Eben Sadie and Jaume Sabaté, strongly condemn this unexplained act.

It was not as direct or dramatic as an assault on human life, but is in some way an assault on mankind and a crime of unthinkable measure. Was it some expression of hatred or sheer vandalism? There is no obvious underlying reason, and no one has admitted responsibility for the cowardly act of destruction. The case is being investigated by the police, and local authorities. The Denominación d'Origen Priorat will issue its own statement. The case is also being referred to the provincial government whose viticultural and wine department (Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi - INCAVI) is to analyse all the wines remaining in the cellar. Any contaminated wines (perhaps some 25% of the production) will be destroyed by INCAVI.

Terroir al Limit was formed in 2004 from the union of two wines made in this cellar - Sadie's Dits del Terra and Huber's Arbossar. It has very quickly become one of the most respected and acclaimed wineries in Spain, with local and international awards and recognition. The three men responsible for its vineyards and its wine, while deeply shaken by this hateful and senseless vandalism, are adamant in their determination to move forward with their project. They say: 'We thank all those who have already supported us unconditionally from the moment they heard of this senseless act.'

Victor de la Serna, who drew Purple pagers' attention to this sinister development on our Members' forum last night, points out that three years ago in Priorat someone's vines were set alight, and our Spanish correspondent Luis Gutiérrez writes this morning, 'it seems as though tragedy never comes alone. Today the news is that 150 vines have been ripped out from a vineyard in Ribeira Sacra belonging to Guímaro. See'

Eben Sadie is currently travelling in Asia but makes the point in an email, 'we condemn the act and not the place nor the people. It is just so senseless'.

And so very, very sad in so many ways. Let us hope, as Keith Prothero points out in our forum, that they were well insured.