Friday, February 09, 2007

Oenophilic thievery

Kristin sends along this fascinating story to me, about a huge wine heist in California in which more than 400 bottles were taken from a private collection, totaling about $100,000 in value.

Unlike missing art and antiquities, hot wine has no official registry. “Something like an Amber alert would be very useful,” said George Derbalian, the president of Atherton Wine Imports, an importer of Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Theresa Lawless, a manager for the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, in Novato, Calif., one of several major American insurers of private wine collections, said loss of wine was typically a result of fire or power failures, not theft. “But this will definitely make people think twice,” Ms. Lawless said.

Wine cellar designers are increasingly installing fingerprint and voice recognition systems and crisscrossing laser beams that trigger alarms (à la the movie “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones), said Tod Ban, a wine cellar designer in Atlanta who recently completed such a cellar for a private collector with 27,000 bottles.

I like wine, but I just can't imagine a bottle of anything — liquid gold, even — that would merit such measures. Can someone explain to me what makes a wine so valuable that it would require Hollywood-inspired security measures?

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