Updated: January 23, 2013 5:27 PM | By The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

Wine dispute uncorked in Aquilini divorce

VANCOUVER - One of the owners of the Vancouver Canucks says he shouldn't have to sell a wine collection worth $615,000 to pay for his estranged wife's bills.

Justice Nathan Smith has yet to decide what should be done with the 1,900-bottle collection of wine that has been the subject of arguments this week in B.C. Supreme Court between lawyers acting for Francesco Aquilini and Taliah Aquilini.

Legal action began early last year after mediation efforts between the couple collapsed, and now pre-trial divorce hearings are under way.

Taliah Aquilini has alleged in previous court documents that her husband "engaged in public adulterous conduct in his private life."

Taliah's lawyer, Paul Daltrop, said Wednesday that his client was a stay-at-home mom for more than 20 years and has no income other than money given to her by the Aquilini family.

In contrast, he said Francesco has had access to an investment fund worth more than $1 million and also secured a personal line of credit worth $2 million.

Daltrop said it's a "puzzle" why assets from the sale of the wine would not be available to his client, noting the sale would "level the playing field."

But Karen Shirley-Paterson, the lawyer for Francesco Aquilini, said her client had to use money from investments to pay off debt and buy a residence, while Taliah remains in the family's multi-million dollar home.

"It's not money that's gone," she said.

Smith did not rule on the wine sale but ordered two more days of pre-trial hearings, starting Friday, noting the proceedings would not discuss alleged adultery.

Daltrop said the trial is expected to begin in September.

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