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05.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnWineReport

THE AMAZING BUBBLE TAG

Counterfeiting wine is big business these days. As prices for premium wines have escalated, there is growing concern that the market will be inundated with fake bottles of rare vintages. In a bid to ward off counterfeiters, Château Margaux, maker of the Grand Cru Bordeaux wine of the same name, has created a new “bubble tag” security system. A small plastic label attached to the neck of each bottle packaged since March 7 includes a bubble pattern, an alphanumeric code and an Internet data matrix created specifically for each bottle. To verify the authenticity of a bottle, the owner can log onto the château’s website, enter the alphanumeric code and compare the bubble pattern on the tag with an image that appears on the screen. According to the château, each bubble tag is unique and impossible to replicate. This isn’t the first time the wine estate has incorporated authenticity strategy measures. Since the 199O vintage, bottles produced at Château Margaux have been etched with a laser code. Other estates and even auction houses have also been implementing security efforts. California-based Spectrum Wine Auctions, for example, now puts 36O-degree high-definition photos of all the bottles it sells on its website before auctions. The photos will show nicked labels, corroded capsules or protruding corks, which are all indicators as to how well the bottles have been looked after and how the wine will taste. Of course, it’s really a never ending cycle; the more elaborate the technology to identify fakes, the harder the counterfeiters will work to break the codes.

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