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Wine Notes


Theft in Burgundy of Wine

January 15, 2021Crime stories from France are often quite entertaining, or perhaps it is the way the British report them.  Here’s one from The Guardian


On January 5 at 5:15 a.m. thieves broke into the cellar of Domaine de Rymska Saint-Jean-de-Trézy, a luxury hotel about 30 km from Beaune and made off with hundreds of bottles of valuable Burgundy.  The haul was worth about $426,000.  The owner of the hotel lives nearby and was awakened by the fire alarm going off.  Jumping in his car, he managed to keep up with the getaway vehicle, a van, and call the police.  When the chase reached the A6 Autoroute du Soleil the gendarmes took over and the chase continued south at high speed.  As the police gained on the van, the thieves starting pelting their windshield with the weapon at hand –- bottles of expensive grand cru Burgundy.  

Missing their target, the thieves abandoned their van after they crashed into a toll booth 22 miles north of Lyon.  The police are searching for three or more men.

Just 24 hours earlier, thieves had broken into the same cellar and made off with $243,000 worth of wine.  The alarm did not go off.  It’s not yet known if this heist was the same gang, which seems plausible, or word got around about the easy pickings.  Despite a lot of broken glass, no one was hurt.

Theft in Champagne of Sheep

Like Little Bo Peep, Moët Hennessy, the world’s largest producer of Champagne, has lost its sheep.  According to a report in The Drinks Business (UK) the company wants the entire wine division to be herbicide-free by the end of the year and to that end, was experimenting with sheep to graze the vineyards controlling grass and weeds.  On January 2 a shepherd reported that a flock of 14 sheep on a 5-hectare plot at Aÿ had been stolen along with a solar panel used to generate electricity for the fence around the area.

Sheep in vineyard

Sheep are used by sparkling wine producers in England as well as in New Zealand where Yealands Wine in the Marlborough region use very small sheep called “Babydoll” which are too short to reach the grapes.

We checked L’Union a publication in Eperney which broke the story of the missing sheep to see if they had been found but couldn’t find any update.  Lamb for dinner anyone?

Wine in the Past ….

In 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius erupted burying Pompeii and the nearby city of Herculaneum.  The ruins of Pompeii were discovered in the late 16th century and five centuries later, excavation continues giving us a glimpse into Roman life nearly 2000 years ago. 


In February 2019, archaeologists discovered a hot food counter and bar painted with beautiful decorations that are amazingly well preserved. Amphorae and other drink service accoutrements confirmed the wine bar activities The exciting news is that the bar will be open to visitors to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii by Easter, if COVID restrictions are lifted by then.  No, they won’t be selling wine and hot snacks. Sorry.

….and in the Future

Moving from the 1st century A.D. to the 21st, a case of Bordeaux wine that has spent a year in space returned on the SpaceX Dragon capsule last night along with 320 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vine cuttings, which were launched into space last March.

SpaceX Dragon capsule

Space Cargo Unlimited, based in Luxembourg Tweeted “We are thrilled to share that all bottles survived the trip of 438 days and 19 hours on ISS – more than 300.000.000 km at 28.800 km/h – in ZeroG.”

The wine will rest until the end of February at which time Space Cargo Unlimited will open a couple of bottles for tasting and chemical analysis.  The focus of the experiment is agricultural science.  USA Today quoted this statement from the company at the time of launch, “”Wine making and maturation is an extremely relevant multi-component biological process involving key elements such as yeast, bacteria, crystals, colloids, and polyphenols. Very little is known about how the taste and chemical composition of wine is affected during the ageing process.”  There’s got to be a collector out there drooling with desire to add one of these bottles to his collection but no word on any of the consignment being for sale.

SpaceX Bordeaux Wine
Wine bottles being packaged for space flight

We liked the quote of Nicolas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited that he hopes the experiment proves useful for future space explorers to enjoy a glass of wine on the moon and Mars.  “Being French, it’s part of life to have some good food and good wine,” he said.  Amen to that.