LOVING THAT AMAZING Bordeaux or Burgundy you just picked up at auction? Be careful, it just may be a cheap knockoff. According to unofficial industry estimates, fake wines now account for 2O% of global wine sales. The claim was published recently in regional French newspaper Sud Ouest and refers to value sales, linked predominantly to top Bordeaux and Burgundy. Earlier this fall magistrates in Bordeaux sentenced Armenian immigrant Armand Aramian to four months in prison for selling fake Château Mouton Rothschild labels on eBay to a Saint Emilion-based winemaker and label collector. When police searched Aramian’s Paris apartment they found 8OOO wine labels in his cellar. “They were very likely forged in China,” said prosecutor Marianne Constantin. “The most important thing is that the labels in this case did not make their way onto any bottles of fake wine,” she added.
And in October, an Italian father and son were arrested on suspicion of counterfeiting 4OO bottles of top Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and selling them across Europe for a sum of 2 million Euros. The pair, believed to work in the wine trade, was arrested in the course of a Europol operation spanning Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Cyprus, and Italy. The case comes as Hong Kong millionaire Henry Tang has launched libel proceedings against US lawyer Don Cornwell who accused him of knowingly consigning fake DRC to a recent Christie’s auction. Burgundian winemaker Laurent Ponsot estimates that 8O% of auctioned wines said to come from Burgundy’s most prestigious domaines are counterfeit. Ponsot played a key role in the unmasking of Rudy Kurniawan as an alleged wine fraudster after the Indonesian-born collector tried to auction pre-1982 vintages of Ponsot’s Clos St. Denis, which was first made in 1982. Kurniawan’s trial is due to start soon during which Ponsot is expected to testify. As big an issue as counterfeiting is, it only highlights the ridiculous amounts of money wealthy people are willing to drop on wine. Caveat Emptor.