Congratulations, you made it to the front pages. Breaking into the French Laundry, on Christmas Day of all times, was quite a coup, front page news.
Maybe you didn’t want that. Maybe you thought you would remain obscure as when you stole twenty-four bottles from Redd just down the street in Yountville, or from Fine Wine International, a San Francisco shop, in 2013. But the French Laundry is one of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world. How could you not have known it would land you notoriety?
Seventy-six bottles of Romanee Conti and Screaming Eagle. Wow! Very sophisticated.
Admittedly your methods were not exactly from The Thomas Crown Affair. Putting a crowbar to an unalarmed building in the midst of renovation was not exactly Hollywood stuff. But you are to be commended on your knowledge of wine and what sells. $300,000 value is a nice take for a brief early morning foray. Everyone admires your audacity as though you are Thomas Crown.
Your existence has shocked the wine world. Why? I don’t know.
It’s not as though we haven’t seen wine crooks before. Fake winemakers like Hardy Rodenstock and pundits who endorsed them like Michael Broadbent may not have borne crowbars, but they were no different than your ilk. They surprised us too, at first. But we came to understand that where there are high prices, there’s bound to be crooks.
We should not be dismayed by dishonesty in what we previously considered a gentlemanly world of snobbery.
After all we created you. We did so by our willingness to pay outrageous prices for fermented grape juice. We blame the Chinese nowadays for the extreme ridiculousness of Romanee Conti or First Growth Bordeaux, but what they are doing is an extension of ours. We are now also blaming them as mostly like to be recipients of what came out of the French Laundry. I am not sure of that.
All this is besides the point. The real reason I am writing to you is because I too have a wine collection, around 1500 bottles, and my house is probably easier to break into than Wine Country restaurants. I want to plead with you to please not target me.
I am not pleading to avoid any damage to my lock or whatever wine I’ll lose. I am doing so as a favor to you. You see, I don’t have the kinds of wines you’re targeting. I only have bottles with dubious market value, many with stained or damaged labels from prior mishaps – if you intend to drink the wine you don’t care much about intact labels – purchased at reasonable prices and with no eye toward future market potential. Any effort against my collection will be a waste of time.
You may as well keep eying those who have collected celebrated labels, those with greed and hubris. Many of them have no appreciation for fine wine anyway. They deserve what’s coming to them. After all, you may be the crooks, but they too are crooked.