February 2, 2007

stolen: magnum of 1959 Chateau Petrus, life

From today's New York Times comes the story of a big wine heist in Atherton, not far from the fredshouse estate.

ATHERTON, Calif. — It was perhaps the most Californian of crimes. Behind the electronic gates and freshly clipped hedges of an exclusive cul-de-sac, the thieves worked in the dead of night, ignoring watches, laptops and other ho-hum booty to cart away the ultimate prize: 450 bottles of wine, including a rare $11,000 1959 magnum from the Château Pétrus in Bordeaux, France.

Thus began what the police in this Silicon Valley town, one of the country’s most affluent ZIP codes, refer to as “the big wine caper” — a $100,000 theft, still under investigation, whose audacity has inspired Agatha Christie-like fascination among sophisticated oenophiles in the Bay Area.

Yes, it's a very intriguing story reminiscent of romanticized high-class criminal escapades like The Thomas Crown Affair. Mansions, wine cellars, selective thieves (Petrus for gods sake, ai!) But the real twist of the knife comes at the end of the article:

The case has lingering overtones for Sergeant Wade, who also was working on a case in nearby East Palo Alto, a city that has long wrestled with high crime rates.

“An 18-year-old girl was shot point-blank in the head and I received no calls about it,” he said. “The wine theft? A gazillion. It kind of shows you where people’s values lie.”

That's the real story here, although it doesn't sell papers -- an enclave of wealth and privilege at the heart of self-absorbed Silicon Valley, wringing their hands over spilt wine while just across the freeway a more precious fluid is being spilled, violently.

Posted by Gene at February 2, 2007 8:00 AM | TrackBack