Wine fraud is rampant.
Wine forgery is becoming more and more an issue in the world of fine and rare wines. Recently in the U.S., Rudy Kurniawan, an Indonesian wine forger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He bought empty bottles of the world best wines from eBay, including Romanée-Conti and Pétrus, and refilled these bottles with cheaper ones in his KITCHEN! Then he sold these fake wines for more than $50 millions. It is almost shocking that Kurniawan managed to deceive the world for more than 12 years, until he finally was arrested in Los Angeles in 2013.
To combat increasing frauds, wine growers, merchants and distributors have been, of course, working hard. Scientific detection systems have been invented such as UV light, glass etching and DNA evaluation. For instance, Château Margaux started etching its bottles since 1995, which allows the Château to know which negociant bought them and when the bottles were shipped. There is also a special nuclear studies centre in Bordeaux which can confirm an old vintage by measuring the radioactive particles present in the bottle. The oldest vintage which could be detected by nuclear trace dates back to 1945, the year of Hiroshima. Before that, there was no nuclear component in the atmosphere. Also, some governments have taken more stringent actions against counterfeiting. In China, the death penalty has recently been handed down to forgers of the most expensive wines.
Nevertheless, wine fraud is still rampant. So how could we avoid fake wines? There are vintages and brands which you should be mindful, i.e. the most expensive French wines, including Romanée-Conti, Pétrus, Margaux, Lafite, Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion. Older vintages (20 years or more) are particularly at risk as the producers’ preventive measures were not there yet. The vintages at risk are the so called “popular vintages” such as 1921, 1945, 1947, 1961, and 1982. For instance, most of Pétrus 1921 sold in Asia are said to be fake. Others at risk would be popular champagnes like Veuve Clicquot and Moet & Chandon.
Another tip for you to avoid fake wines is to choose your wine merchant, and not rushing to take a super offer. Any good wine has its price. If the price is too good to be true, better not to believe in it.
At FAIR WINES, all the wines are selected by Aymeric de Clouet, who stands as our guardian to ensure the quality of each bottle. He is one of the most established wine professional in France. Recognised for his accurate and fair judgment of the quality and authenticity of wines, Aymeric has been appointed as sole Expert to the Paris Court of Appeal since 2011. He is regularly involved in authenticating vintage wines for merchants and buyers.