Thieves steal over $300,000 worth of wine from French Laundry restaurant

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Rare vintages of fabled wines, some worth $15,000 a bottle, stolen from French Laundry

A Christmas Day robbery at Yountville’s storied French Laundry restaurant netted a king’s collection of fabulous wines worth at least $300,000.

The thieves, who jimmied a door at the wine room on the property, obviously knew exactly what they were going for. Most of the 76 bottles taken were from the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, including bottles from the fabled Burgundy estate’s Romanée Conti vineyard that are worth at least $15,000 each.

UPDATE: French Laundry burglary: 'It's only wine,' owner says

French Laundry chef and proprietor Thomas Keller took to Twitter, asking for help from the wine community in finding the thieves.

 “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.

“Please contact media@tkrg.com with any information.”

The French Laundry, which just celebrated its 20th birthday this summer, is acknowledged to be one of the greatest restaurants in the world. It's one of only 13 in the United States that have earned three stars from the Michelin restaurant guide. Another is its East Coast sibling, Per Se.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Keller added: “We are working with local law enforcement in this ongoing investigation and appreciate any information the community may have that could help us identify the offenders. We look forward to rebuilding our cellar and moving forward with The French Laundry’s kitchen remodel.”

Most of the wines taken were highly collectible and trade mostly on the private and auction markets. Prices fluctuate, but a rough value can be estimated from an analysis of similar bottles listed for sale at retail on the Wine Searcher website.

Retail prices, of course, are only a fraction of what the wines would sell for on a restaurant wine list. Typical restaurant mark-ups are two to three times retail, and with rare wines can be even higher.

Among the most valuable wines taken were bottles of DRC Romanée Conti from the vintages spanning 2004-2010, which range in price at retail from $11,000 to $15,000 per bottle. There were bottles of DRC’s La Tache from 1993 to 2010, which range in price from to $2,100 to $4,500 each.

The thieves also took several bottles of California cult Cabernet Sauvignon Screaming Eagle, with prices ranging from $2,100 to $7,500.

The French Laundry had just served its last meal on Christmas Eve before closing down for as long as six months or more for a complete kitchen remodel.

Here's a complete list of the wines taken:

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Grands Echezeaux” 2007            

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Grands Echezeaux” 2008          

3 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Grands Echezeaux” 2009          

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Grands Echezeaux” 2010            

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2003       

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2005      

3 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2006       

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2007       

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2008       

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2009         

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée St. Vivant” 2010         

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 1988          

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2002

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2005        

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2006        

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2008          

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2009          

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Richebourg” 2010          

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 1993

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 1996

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 1999

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2002

1 bottle Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2004

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2005              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2006              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2007              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2008              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2009              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 2010              

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2004

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2005

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2006

3 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2007

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2008

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2009

2 bottles Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “Romanée Conti” 2010

2 bottles Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges “Clos de la Maréchale” 2005    

2 bottles Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits-St. Georges” Clos de la Maréchale” 2008          

1 bottle Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992

1 bottle Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1995         

1 bottle Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1998         

1 bottle Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1999         

1 bottle Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2010         

5 bottles Moet & Chandon Champagne Brut Grand Cru Cuvée “Dom Perignon” 2004     

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATED

This story was updated at 11:07 a.m. to include the complete list of wines stolen.

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