They say there’s no rest for the wicked, but apparently there is plenty of wine for them. Thieves have recently targeted the cellars of wine-focused restaurants in Norway and Spain, as well as at retailer-grower Kracher in Austria.
The spate of robberies—which are not believed to be linked in any way, other than great taste in wine—began in Norway in early November when thieves broke into Park 29 restaurant in Oslo, owned by Fridtjof Bade. They took 264 bottles representing Barolo, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Côte-Rôtie, while bypassing a selection of top Champagnes, suggesting to Bade that they knew what they'd come for. Had they checked out the wine list in advance? The perpetrators apparently left no trace, and Bade says the wines, valued at $120,000 to $200,000, are nigh impossible to replace.
Along the Norwegian coast, hotel-restaurant Tollboden, owned by Fredensborg Hospitality, was robbed twice in November, according to sommelier Francesco Marzola, who works for Fredensborg. "We had, unfortunately, two break-ins at our cellar in Kragerø, in Norway, the past few weeks," wrote Marzola on his Facebook page. "Several bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti as well as Mugnier, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Palmer have been taken away!"
Tollboden has since closed, but the Fredensborg group plans to open another wine-focused restaurant, Ambassaden, in Oslo, in the former U.S. embassy designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.
By going public with the Tollboden theft, Marzola hopes to make it more difficult for the thieves to resell their liquid loot. "Please be aware, and if you get offered wine here in Norway from suspicious sources, do refuse and be kindly to inform," wrote Marzola. "The value that those bottles have goes beyond the economics, and it saddens the heart missing them."
The Norwegian wine monopoly Vinmonopolet has been notified of the thefts; many of the wines are marked with their own serial number. However, neither of the Norwegian targets expect to see the stolen wines again, despite raising the alarm within the trade.
Also in November, in Austria, Kracher Fine Wine, the retail arm of Kracher winery, was robbed of 600 to 700 bottles. The thieves broke in via a garage door and expropriated a well-chosen selection of wines, including Harlan, Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild, Pétrus, Pingus, Sine Qua Non, Solaia and Yquem.
Kracher, which specializes in fine and rare international wines, has increased its security. Police suspect that the thieves were fulfilling a “pre-order,” and that the bottles have already been purchased into private collections. Other Austrian wine merchants have reportedly been robbed over the past several months as well.
Meanwhile, in Spain, the restaurant Coque de Madrid was relieved of 132 bottles of high-end wines in early November, with the value placed at $190,000. Thieves used a neighboring shuttered pharmacy to gain access on a day when the restaurant was closed. Owned by the Sandoval family, some of the stolen wines had belonged to the current generation's grandfather, with vintages going back to 1925.
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