Madiran vineyard: they stole thousands of bottles of Château Montus

the essential
Between 2012 and 2015, a team stole thousands of bottles of wine from Alain Brumont’s famous Madiran estate. This series of flights will be judged this Thursday in Auch.

It is an unusual theft that will be judged this Thursday at the Auch Criminal Court. The theft of 410 hectoliters of wine, more than 55,000 bottles from the most famous vineyard in Madiran. Leaving the cellars of Alain Brumont’s Montus and Bouscassé castles, some ten kilometers apart, some bottles were resold… for less than €2 each! Thirteen defendants must appear, some for theft, others for concealment.

Exterior view of Château Montus located on the Madiran vineyard, straddling the Gers and the Hautes-Pyrénées.

The pot-aux-roses was discovered in January 2015, when Alain Brumont noticed that his volumes for the 2014 vintage did not correspond at all to the volumes harvested. 12,000 bottles are missing, according to the annual inventory. Added to this are rumors of bottles of Montus being sold under the hood – and at low prices – in the Hautes-Pyrénées… The winegrower lodged a complaint. And he opens his eyes. He has plenty to do: production consists of 3.5 million bottles, stored in two large buildings. And no video system to protect the warehouses.

The hand on the collar

Alain Brumont shares his suspicions with the investigators, but it is alone, in April 2015, that the winemaker catches his thieves red-handed.
He intercepts a car leaving the Maumusson-Laguian estate (Château Bouscassé): on board, the companion of the expedition manager. He takes it to Riscle, where the gendarmes find 22 boxes of bottles in the trunk. The woman sits at the table. Each week, the couple took out hundreds of boxes of wine from the estate’s stocks. Up to 50 per day. She and her companion started stealing to “get out of the mess”, then because it was easier not to be careful while shopping.

Her husband is arrested on the spot in the middle of work. He in turn recognizes the facts. The money? It was used to buy a home cinema, pay for lessons for children, a Porsche for parents, trips. Narcotics, too. The dishonest employee reveals his method of stealing astronomical quantities of wine without being caught. He juggled with stocks and order volumes. Lots of pallets, reserved for last minute orders, were not marked. He took out the boxes, 250 to 500 a week. But he stole 1,000 boxes, or around ten pallets, in one go. His partner turns down the customers. Because this wine, the shipping manager only steals it on order. Two other employees are presented in court in the same context. One who flew on his side, in much smaller proportions, and the other who lent a hand to the couple.

heavy losses

Eight fences will also be tried on Thursday. The couple gives them the bottles. Inexpensive: €20 for a box of 6, or €10 when the order exceeds 50 boxes. Among the receivers, patrons of the restoration. To supply the menu of their bar or restaurant with quality wine at a low price, in Maubourguet or Vic-en-Bigorre, they buy boxes by the dozen. There are also those who have stored, transported, resold to friends, acquaintances… with a good margin in passing. Eight identified receivers, only some of whom dispute the facts. But the rumor of “good cheap wine” has gained such momentum that there are probably more of them.

For Alain Brumont, the loss is threefold. Loss of value, with a colossal theft of goods, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of euros. Loss of reputation, with products that traffic and low prices have devalued, even though the domain was just emerging from a difficult period. Loss of confidence, finally, because the worm was in the fruit. “Alain Brumont himself surprised them, and led them to the gendarmerie, confides his lawyer, Me Nonnon. This case hurt him a lot. He thought he could trust everyone in the business…”


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