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Cabernet Sauvi-gone

A “criminal gang” has stolen an entire £13,000 crop of grapes from a vineyard in France.

Farmer Roland Cavaille was shocked to discover last Sunday morning that his vines, near Villeneuve-les-Beziers, were no longer laden with fruit.

A gang, who are believed to have used mechanical harvesters, stole around 35 tonnes of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes overnight from the two hectare parcel.

One of the French detectives assigned to the case said he feared a “wine mafia gang”, possibly Russian or Eastern European in origin, were behind the theft.

“We are undoubtedly dealing with the kind of upmarket criminals who steal old master paintings and antiques to order,” he added.

With no crop Cavaille faces financial ruin, especially as agricultural insurance does not usually cover raw fruit.

"Those grapes were some of the best on the market. I don’t know how I’m going to survive the year now that they’re gone,” he said.

Similar thefts have taken place in Germany and the US this year. A fortnight ago around 1.5 tonnes of Mourvèdre were stolen from the Red Mountain vineyard of Grand Rêve in Washington State.

Rupert Millar, 01.10.2010

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