On Jan. 9, the staff at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Alberta, made a trip to the wine cellar only to discover that 21 prized bottles were missing. While rearranging bottles in the restaurant Eden's main cellar, an employee noticed that the trophy of the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence-winning wine list, a 15-vintage vertical of Pétrus, spanning vintages from 1964 to 2003, was gone, along with a selection of Château Le Pin. As of last week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have determined that the wine was stolen sometime between Jan. 5 and 6.
"We're checking associations and affiliations. Whoever came in obviously had a knowledge of wine," said constable Jason Krivoshein, of the RCMP. "Only the Pétrus and the Le Pin were taken; they took the most valuable wine in the collection. Somebody researched it."
Stacey-Jo Strombecky, cellar master of Eden, estimates that while the value of the wine taken was about $25,000 of purchased inventory, the real price is much higher. "Looking on auction sites, it's more about $55,000 to replace it." The restaurant was insured, but Strombecky believes new wines will be hard to find. "I don't know how much Pétrus '64 is left," she said.
"It was such a source of pride for us, having that vertical on the list. And now it's gone," she lamented. "It feels personal, quite frankly. I haven't even had a chance to change that page on our wine list."
In a twist of bad luck, this isn't the first time the Rimrock's cellar has been hit by thieves. About five years ago, high-end restaurants around Banff, including the Rimrock and the Banff Springs Hotel, were targeted for their grand cru collections in a series of break-ins. Krivoshein doesn't see much similarity in the cases, however. "There was more forced entry on that file," he said.
"We thought we had enough [security] last time, but apparently not," said Strombecky, adding that the restaurant is planning to employ tighter security measures.
Krivoshein said that similar cases have been solved with input from the public. "[Pétrus] isn't one of those things that regularly pops up. So if [collectors] do see this stuff, and it seems suspicious, hopefully they will let us know so we can catch the people that did this," he said. "One would hope that people wouldn't be willfully blind with purchasing and say, 'Oh my good fortune, there's 23 bottles of Pétrus.'"