French police arrest 20 for allegedly stealing $1.73m worth of Bordeaux wine

BORDEAUX (AFP) - French police have arrested 20 men suspected of involvement in stealing more than a million euros (S$1.73 million) worth of top Bordeaux wines.

An operation involving more than 300 officers in several areas of south-western France and the Paris region had dismantled a "very structured, professional" operation, a police spokesman said on Monday.

Police believe the gang has been targeting some of the region's most prestigious properties since June and some of the men detained are well known to the authorities, he added.

The properties targeted by the thieves have not been divulged. Producers are extremely sensitive about the security of their stocks and about any lapse which would offer an opportunity for the production of counterfeit bottles.

Prices of the very top Bordeaux wines from good recent vintages can easily exceed 1,000 euros a bottle, while older and rarer bottles can be worth many times that amount.