Bungling burglars pilfer vintage Bordeaux

When burglars broke into the cellars of the prestigious Bordeaux wine producer Chateau Palmer, making off with €72,000 worth of grand cru, they thought they had got away with it. But the robbers never got the chance to crack open a bottle.

Bungling burglars pilfer vintage Bordeaux
Chateau Palmer, where thieves struck in the dead of night to steal 318 bottles of grand cru. Photo Jamesonf/flickr
Burglars raided the famous Chateau Palmer cellar in the dead of night last Sunday, pilfering 318 bottles of fine wine worth an estimated €220 a bottle.
It does not happen often but thanks to a slice of luck, police managed to solve the crime even before the alarm had been raised by the Chateau's owners.
The theft was discovered early the next morning thanks to the work of an entirely separate police investigation.
According to the regional paper Sud-Ouest, Bordeaux's police force had been looking into three shop break-ins in the area for several weeks.
As part of their investigation, police raided the houses of some prime suspects in the early hours of Monday morning including a 25-year-old with a previous conviction for attempting to force open a cash machine with a grinder in the town of Saint-Germain-du-Puch in February 2012.
But failing to realize the police were on to him the thief had stored  the 30 stolen cases of fine wine in his own apartment. Police naturally became suspicious about the presence of €72,000 worth grand cru and arrested him on suspicion of theft.
Three suspects were taken into custody on Wednesday. All suspects deny involvement in the burglary. 
The missing 318 bottles have since been returned to the wine cellar.
It is not the first time France’s lucrative wine industry has been targeted by thieves.

In 2010 burglars broke into a vineyard and stole an entire crop of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The thieves used a harvesting machine to pilfer 30 tonnes of vines from the vineyard in the Languedoc-Rousillon region. The theft was worth around €15,000

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts