A quick update in the wine theft case that rocked the food world back in December: As mustache twins Matier & Ross report, the thieves responsible, and the wealthy wine collector in North Carolina who purchased most of the stolen lot, have not been identified, and it may be because the rich dude struck a deal to evade prosecution himself, and has thus stymied the investigation.
It seems unlikely that a wine connoisseur in North Carolina who could afford to drop so large a sum (assuming that the $300K cache of vino went for, say, $100K on the black market, at least) would be unknown to in-the-know wine sellers, but so far that appears to be the case.
Napa County Sheriff John Robertson says that the three sheriff’s detectives who flew to Greensboro North Carolina to retrieve the stolen bottles (all but four of them, anyway) when they turned up there in late January only ever met with the buyer's attorney, who struck the deal to return them.
The French Laundry remains interested in the case and wants someone apprehended, but the talk across Napa all these months has been that this was probably an inside job, given that the alarm on the wine cellar was turned off at the time of the crime.
But now investigators say they've "made a little progress" recently, without going into any detail, and it might be with some help from the FBI.
The heist, which occurred on Christmas Day 2014 and echoed a smaller one that happened just down the street at Redd in Yountville around Christmas the year before featured the theft of 76 of the priciest vintages in the Laundry's cellar, with a retail value totaling about $300,000. These included "verticals" (multiple vintages) of cult Napa label Screaming Eagle and famed Burgundy producer Domaine Romanée-Conti, some of which are on the restaurant's wine list for between $3000 and $8000 (the latter being for 1999 DRC). The Business Times gathered the full list of stolen bottles here, and it's unclear which four of these disappeared (presumably into the buyer's stomach) before the rest were recovered.
Whether the honor and pleasure of consuming such wines should, in a rational world, cost so goddamn much is still up for debate. Is a 1999 Burgundy really 80 times better than one you might pay $100 for from a couple years ago? Talk amongst yourselves.