Oh no, Pe­tra... not the Petrus!

As if di­vorc­ing the F1 heiress wasn’t tough enough, a mys­tery fault puts James Stunt’s £16m wine cel­lar at risk

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Padraic Flana­gan

HE’S al­ready go­ing through a tough time thanks to his ac­ri­mo­nious di­vorce bat­tle with For­mula 1 heiress Pe­tra Ec­cle­stone.

And now James Stunt has been re­ceived a fresh blow – as his prized £16 mil­lion wine col­lec­tion has been put at risk by a mys­tery mishap that caused the state-of-the-art sys­tem de­signed to keep it un­der the per­fect con­di­tions to fail.

The 25-year-old ty­coon is said to be ‘alarmed’ by the in­ci­dent at the £88mil­lion man­sion he shared with Pe­tra in Los Angeles.

De­spite be­ing a tee­to­taller, Mr Stunt has an ex­ten­sive cel­lar, in­clud­ing what’s be­lieved to be Amer­ica’s largest col­lec­tion of claret from the ex­clu­sive Petrus es­tate, priced around £4,000 a bot­tle.

His col­lec­tion is kept in a cli­mate­con­trolled vault in the vast prop­erty, which is the largest sin­gle home in Hol­ly­wood. But in a freak ac­ci­dent the elec­tric­ity sup­ply main­tain­ing those per­fect con­di­tions was in­ter­rupted.

‘James has been alarmed by the in­ci­dent and is telling friends he’s wor­ried about the wine,’ a source told The Mail on Sun­day. ‘He is be­ing urged to have it tested.’ Ru­mours swirled about the cause, but a source said: ‘It wasn’t Pe­tra.

‘It may have been an elec­tri­cal prob­lem or a mem­ber of staff press­ing the wrong switch, it’s just not clear at the mo­ment. But it is a con­cern.’

Some of his wines are kept in a cab­i­net de­signed by Vis­count Lin­ley, the Queen’s nephew, while his en­vi­able col­lec­tion in Los Angeles and London also fea­tures other bot­tles of rare first-growth clarets, in­clud­ing large stocks of Ro­manéeConti and Le Pin wine.

Mr Stunt also has six 19th Cen­tury Chateau Lafite Roth­schild wines. Other bot­tles from that es­tate and that era have been sold for up to £175,000.

Mr Stunt de­clined to com­ment on the in­ci­dent, but ex­perts said pro­longed ex­po­sure to high tem­per­a­tures could ruin the wine.

‘Tem­per­a­ture prob­lems can de­stroy the value of fine wines,’ says Jörn Klein­hans, man­ag­ing direc­tor of cel­lar man­age­ment group The Som­me­lier Com­pany

‘Older wines are much more prone to any ad­verse con­di­tions. An old wine is like an old lady stand­ing close to the edge of a cliff – it doesn’t take much to push her over the edge.

‘Wine is best stored at 55F (12C) with high hu­mid­ity. It can sur­vive be­ing raised to 80F (27C) for a few hours, but at 90F (32C) you’ll have dam­age very quickly..’

Last month, 19 days in Los Angeles were warmer than 80F, in­clud­ing five days that topped 90F.

How­ever Paul LaRussa, founder of Pre­mium Cru Wine Cel­lars, had a bet­ter prog­no­sis. ‘If the cel­lar is be­low ground, away from ex­te­rior walls, and has been prop­erly in­su­lated, even with­out cool­ing it could take weeks or even months to be­come warm enough to cause dam­age to wine,’ he said.

‘Just be­cause the cool­ing sys­tem fails it doesn’t mean that the wine will au­to­mat­i­cally be ru­ined.’

Mr Stunt and Ms Ec­cle­stone bought their man­sion from film pro­ducer Aaron Spell­ing’s widow Candy for £50mil­lion in 2011, the same year they mar­ried.

They are cur­rently go­ing through a bit­ter bat­tle over their £5bil­lion for­tune, which could be the big­gest di­vorce set­tle­ment in celebrity his­tory.

A full hear­ing has been sched­uled for this month.

MISHAP: James and Pe­tra and, be­low, their £88mil­lion LA home. Left: A 1982 Petrus grand cru

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