Famed Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry fell victim to a Christmas Day heist that only wealthy wine snobs can appreciate the gravity of. As Inside Scoop reports, a thief or thieves made off with 76 bottles of fine French and California vintages, bottles that sell for upwards of $3,000 apiece on the restaurant's wine list, a cache totaling over $300,000.
Chef-owner Thomas Keller tweeted out the following alert Monday night. Note that DRC stands for renowned Burgundy producer Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and Screaming Eagle is a cult producer of Napa Cabernet.
On Christmas day @_TFL_ was the victim of a robbery. Specific wines of specific value were stolen: DRC & Screaming Eagle (1/3)— Thomas Keller (@Chef_Keller) December 30, 2014
We have complete trust in the authorities leading the investigation & welcome any information our community may have (2/3)— Thomas Keller (@Chef_Keller) December 30, 2014
We are confident that if/when any stolen bottles appear in public they will immediately raise red flags. Email: [email protected] w/info (3/3)— Thomas Keller (@Chef_Keller) December 30, 2014
The restaurant subsequently posted this photo of their pried-open front door on Instagram.
On Christmas day, The French Laundry was the victim of a robbery. Specific wines of specific value were stolen (DRC & Screaming Eagle). We have complete trust in the authorities leading the investigation, and we welcome any information our community may have regarding the event. We are confident that if and when any of the stolen bottles appear in public, they will immediately raise questions and red flags among the wine knowledgeable. The French Laundry wine program is, as many of you know, singular and distinct. We look forward to rebuilding our cellar in the meantime and plan to get to the bottom of this disheartening act immediately. #TheGrinchThatStoleXmas
As SFist earlier reported, the restaurant closed for Christmas and plans to remain closed for several months as they begin a kitchen reconstruction. They plan to reopen using a temporary kitchen sometime this spring.
Inside Scoop takes note of the pricing of various vintages of Screaming Eagle and Romanée-Conti, which start at $3250 (DRC '07) and go up to $7950 (DRC '99). The thief responsible obviously had to know where to locate these bottles and what their value would be.
The SF Business Times is now reporting that the thieves stole a total of 76 bottles worth about $300,000. And it turns out that a couple of pilfered bottles of Romanée-Conti were actually worth more like $15,000 apiece. See the entire list of stolen wines here.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that local police suspect someone with inside knowledge of the restaurant may have been involved, given both that the alarm in the wine cellar had not been set, and that there was a small window of time on Christmas Day when the entire restaurant would have been empty. They also note that a similar heist involving a crowbar and 10 bottles of expensive Romanée-Conti happened last year just down the street from the French Laundry in Yountville at Redd, during a 10-day winter closure.
In a statement, the restaurant says, "The French Laundry wine program is, as many of you know, singular and distinct. We look forward to rebuilding our cellar in the meantime and plan to get to the bottom of this disheartening act immediately."
In related, sort of amusing news from last month, a New Jersey man mistakenly ordered a bottle of Screaming Eagle at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City while at a business dinner. He had asked the waitress for a recommendation and asked the price because he didn't have his glasses. She replied, "Thirty-seven fifty," and he naively thought that meant $37.50. But then the bill came and it was, of course, $3750. He claims not to know much about wine, but even he says, "It wasn't great. It wasn't terrible. It was fine." The lesson: No wine is worth a thousand dollars, let alone more.
This post has been updated throughout.