Over €600,000 of first growth and other top Bordeaux wines have been stolen from one of France’s oldest negociant houses in a heist which bears all the hallmarks of an inside job.
The haul of grand cru classé wines, consisting almost entirely of cases of Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour and other top names mainly from Margaux, were taken from Seignouret Frères earlier this week.
In total, more than 3,000 bottles went missing, in what local police are saying was likely to have been a ‘theft to order’.
Export manager Laurent Barrier said one of his colleagues noticed empty spaces in our stock room on Monday morning.
‘After completing an inventory, we realised we were missing over 250 cases of our most prestigious wines.’
The stolen bottles, mainly from the 2004 vintage, had only arrived at the warehouse a few days before, suggesting the thieves were working on inside information.
Other factors point to a professional gang working to order – they left thousands of other less sought-after wines, there were no signs of a break-in, and they must have been able to work undetected for some hours, moving what amounted to four tons (4,000kg) of merchandise.
It is thought that the stolen bottles are likely to be taken overseas. Modern tracing systems – with lot numbers and codes on every bottle and label – would make it almost impossible to sell them in France.
Barrier said he hoped to recover all or some of the wine, but added, ‘Essentially, this wine has already been paid for by our clients, and they will be reimbursed.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux