Six men have been arrested for the theft of €600,000 worth of top Bordeaux.
The men being held on charges of stealing over 270 cases of grand cru and other premium wine from Bordeaux negociants Seignouret Freres the weekend of 17 February.
Mainly 2004 vintage bought en primeur, the wine – including Haut-Brion, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour and Lafite-Rothschild – had arrived recently at Seignouret’s warehouse, and was destined for clients around the world.
230 of the cases have been located – some of them still bearing original Seignouret identification – split between a warehouse in Villeneuve-sur-Lot and a disused hangar in Merignac .
Seignouret Freres export manager Laurent Barrier confirms that the wine is in perfect condition, and praised investigators.
‘This is a big victory for the police,’ he said. ’We are very happy that the case is being resolved so quickly, and that the large amount of wine that has been found is completely intact.’
The thieves have been branded an organised ring by French police; three have been charged with breaking and entering, and three with receiving stolen goods, according to French press reports. At least one was a known offender, who was fingered as a possible culprit while being questioned about an unrelated incident of wine fraud.
A crowbar was used to gain access to the warehouse via a metallic grille which was then replaced, without trace of entry, only to be breached again the following evening.
They were rounded up thanks to cooperation by different branches of the French police, located in neighbouring regions.
The theft is presumed to be an inside job, done to order on behalf of an overseas client, since traceable codes and serial numbers would have rendered it nearly impossible to fence the wine in France.
Written by Maggie Rosen