Hundreds of bottles of some of the world's most expensive wine, belonging to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, have disappeared at Le Havre port in northern France just before being shipped to Canada, prompting French police to launch a theft investigation.
French police investigating after 31 cases of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines disappear, believed stolen.
Mostly DRC Echezeaux and Romanée-Conti, 2012 vintage
DRC co-owner says ‘first time I’ve witnessed a theft of this size’
The missing wines were ‘principally DRC Echezeaux and Romanée-Conti‘, according to Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of the renowned Burgundy domaine.
An estimated market value of the cache of wines has not been given, but Romanée-Conti 2012 was this week on sale for between £8,000 and £9,000 per bottle. DRC Echezeaux from the same vintage was around £500 per bottle.
DRC’s status means that its wines have become a target for both wine counterfeiters and thieves.
DRC wines supposed to arrive in Canada
On the 12 of October, dozens of cases of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2012 wines left their prestigious cellars for a new destination: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) in Canada.
On the 14 October, the wines were in-bond at Le Havre, the French maritime hub. But, in November, the LCBO warned DRC that only a part of the order was in the container. Thirty-one cases had disappeared.
DRC co-owner Aubert de Villaine warned the authorities and lodged a complaint.
French police hunt
French police uncovered a lead in December when a fine wine collector became suspicious after seeing two magnums of Romanée-Conti 2012 for sale for €48,000 online.
Police from Versailles and Dijon posed as buyers and arrested two people in the Paris region. During the interrogation, one of them put investigators on the trail of a man from Bordeaux, who previously held the two magnums in question.
This man was an acquaintance of a dock worker from Le Havre, according to initial police inquiries. No names have been given.
‘The investigation is ongoing and I hope the police can find these bottles because we cannot replace them,’ Aubert de Villaine told Decanter.com.
Any unusual parcel of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2012 wines on sale may be reported to the domaine with ‘batch numbers for authentification’, he said. ‘
‘This is the first time in my life I have witnessed a theft of this size,’ de Villaine said.
DRC and its agents have faced several battles with counterfeiters and thieves in recent years.
Wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in the US, was known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his focus producing copycats of DRC wines.
(Editing by Chris Mercer)
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