Spanish police were investigating after thieves broke into the cellars of Michelin-starred Coque via a next-door property and stole prized bottles of wine from the top Madrid restaurant.
Around 132 bottles have been taken, according to an initial count. The full value of the wines stolen was still being assessed but it was estimated to be at least €150,000, said Cristina Pérez Olmos, communications director for Coque.
Some bottles had been in the cellars for many, many years and could be hard to replace, she said, although the restaurant has been advised not to name specific labels at this stage. Thieves managed to get around security measures that were in place, she added.
It’s the latest example of thieves targeting the fine wine cellars of exclusive restaurants, a phenomenon that has been seen in several countries.
Police investigating the raid on Coque’s cellars in Madrid said they believed the burglars were specifically targeting the wine, with nothing else taken, El Pais newspaper reported, citing police sources.
Rafael Sandoval, who manages the restaurant’s wine cellar, said in a broadcast interview published by Europa Press that he wanted to warn other members of the restaurant trade to try to prevent future burglaries.
Sandoval, who is one of three brothers behind Coque – alongside chef Mario and dining room manager Diego – won a Spanish National Gastronomy Award in 2017 and the restaurant’s wine cellar includes thousands of top bottles from around the world.
Cristina Pérez Olmos said it had taken a lot of time and effort to build up the cellar. ‘Then to have someone just come in and take it is quite awful,’ she said, adding the team was hopeful that the thieves can be identified. She, too, advised other restaurants to be wary.
For now, Coque was back open as normal, with the wine cellar welcoming guests as of yesterday lunchtime (2 November), she said.
‘For us it’s key, because our wine cellar is so incredible, it’s a big part of the experience, so we wanted it to be restored as soon as possible,’ she said. ‘It’s not our clients’ fault that this happened to us.’
She said the Coque experience involved five main steps. ‘First you visit the cocktail bar and you have a bite there and a drink, and then the wine cellar and the “sacristy”, which is a little chapel inside the wine cellar with all the Sherry wines, and then you go up to the kitchen and then you sit down in the dining room.’
A number of separate incidents have seen the theft of fine wines from leading restaurants in recent years.
The theft at Coque in Madrid comes around a year after a break-in at another top Spanish restaurant, Atrio in Cáceres, western Spain, and which also has two Michelin stars.
Wines stolen included a bottle of Château d’Yquem from 1806. A couple were arrested earlier this year in connection with the Atrio heist.
In 2020, thieves stole rare Burgundy from Michelin-starred Formel B in Copenhagen. In 2019, two-Michelin-star Maison Rostang in Paris told of how burglars had taken ‘irreplaceable’ bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines, among other fine wines.
Updated 3 November 2022 with new comments from the restaurant.