Wine stolen from Michelin-starred California restaurant recovered

About 80 bottles of premium wine reported to be worth up to US$300,000 (S$400,000) that were stolen from the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant in Northern California have been recovered across the country, police said on Friday.

The wine was taken from the restaurant in Yountville in December after the establishment was closed for remodeling, Napa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Captain Doug Pike said.

Napa County, widely known for its wine, sees a few cases of theft of the beverage every year. French Laundry is one of the most famous restaurants in the United States, and one of just over 100 in the world that have a three-star distinction from Michelin.

Some of the roughly 80 bottles taken were from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a French wine estate considered among the best in the world. Individual bottles were worth more than US$6,000, and altogether the loot had a value conservatively estimated at US$50,000, Pike said.

The Los Angeles Times put the value of the wine at about US$300,000.

Investigators heard from wine experts that any attempt by whoever stole the wine to sell it would make ripples in the wine world, Pike said.

He declined to give details on what clues led three sheriff's office investigators to travel to Greensboro, North Carolina, but said they recovered more than 70 of the bottles there on Monday.

The bottles were in the possession of a buyer who appeared to have been unaware they were stolen, Pike said. A few are still missing, and investigators have yet to make an arrest, he said.

A spokesman for French Laundry chef Thomas Keller's company declined comment, referring questions to the sheriff's office.

The recovered bottles were taken to the sheriff's office, where authorities are working on ways to keep them cool enough to preserve their quality, Pike said.