Associated Press: VALBUENA, Vega Sicilia – Two thieves stole 45 bottles of wine, including an extremely rare 215-year-old bottle valued at €350,000 (£295,000), from a collection at an upmarket hotel and restaurant complex in south-west Spain, the owner has said.
The theft took place in the early hours of Wednesday, according to José Polo, one of the owners of Atrio, a complex comprising a hotel and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant with a cellar sheltering more than 40,000 bottles in the city of Cáceres.
“They were professionals, they knew exactly what they were doing” Polo said after deciding to make the robbery public through a letter to customers and friends.
The suspects are a man and woman who spoke English and gave staff the impression of being a refined couple, who checked into the hotel and dined at its restaurant. They asked a hotel front desk clerk to serve them more food and when he went to the kitchen, leaving security camera monitors unattended, the man slipped into the cellar and stole the bottles, Polo said.
The couple checked out in the early hours of Wednesday, paying with a credit card and leaving with bags full of bottles.
Polo said no one noticed their haul, which included a valuable 1806 Château d’Yquem and at least six other 19th-century bottles from the exclusive Romanée-Conti winemaker in France’s Burgundy region. He said he had not calculated the total value of the stolen bottles, which were insured, but their symbolic value was even greater.
Polo said the pair could only have been working for a private wine collector because they took bottles that could not be sold on the open market.
“Those bottles are very numbered and controlled. That 1806 Yquem is unique; everyone knows it’s ours,” he said, adding that industry connoisseurs would notice if they were put up for sale.
A police spokesperson in Cáceres said an investigation but declined to offer more details.