Wineway robbery

This is possibly the wine theft of the century

ANDREW J. LINN

The days of the bank robber are over. There is no longer any need to hold up cashiers at gunpoint, and an internet connection is all that is required. So why should anyone take the trouble to physically steal wine from a restaurant?

The Michelin-starred Atrio, in Cáceres, is an icon for wine lovers, and while it would be unfair to say people do not actually go for the food, many more go for the wine, exemplified by a leather-bound volume weighing a kilo.

WINE OF THE WEEK

  • Tudanca Verdejo 2021

  • There are so many wines on the market made from white verdejo grapes that we can be excused from thinking they are all much of a muchness.

  • Until, that is, we drink one made from 100-year-old vines, as in this case Attractive pale colour and very intense taste. Around eight euros.

This is the scene of what has been christened 'The Wine Theft of the Century' when some of the oldest wines still in private ownership, and valued at around €1.5 million, were stolen.

The thieves were no ordinary shoplifters either, although this was not clear until months later after a pursuit across Europe. Gratifyingly the police gave the matter their full attention, and the arrests were made as the thieves crossed from Croatia to Moldova nine months after the theft.

Who were they? A former Mexican beauty queen and a 47-year-old 'Rumanian-Dutch' male. They had dined at the restaurant, and later requested a tour of the cellar.

Much later the lady told staff she was still hungry even though the kitchen was closed. While thus distracted no-one saw the man enter the cellar with a skeleton key and a backpack and slip out later.

The couple left the hotel at dawn, and the disappearance of several unique wines, including Chateau d'Yquem 1806, valued at 3,500 euros, was not discovered until later that day.