In Vino Veritas
Fake vintage wine – really. It seems that a ring of gifted and enterprising wine merchants-cum-printers are buying decent Chinese wine and selling it with labels from vintage French Wineries. What would otherwise be an okay bottle of Chinese plonk selling for ten to fifteen USD is being sold as French Vintage wine. BurgledBordeaux, Pity Pinot, Bogus Beaujolais, Muddy Mouton, Mangled Margaux, are all on the rise.
For me this isn’t a real problem, as I like my wine either out of a box or with the handy screw on cap — but for those who buy and speculate on wine, it is becoming areal problem. Bottles from some vintners have gone from $500 a bottle to over$40,000. Even at $1,000 a bottle the exercise is worthwhile. Converting $10 bottles to $1,000 bottles, with little effort, reaps $12,000 per case – at ninety-nine percent profit. The problem is multifaceted. Old bottles of rare wine are often kept as memories after being consumed, so there are a lot of them around. Just look at bottles for sale on the Internet (I’m not kidding). You can find recipes for creating”older wine” from young wine, and corks are easy to get – use a two-pronged opener, don’t damage the cork, and out it comes ready to be altered and retasked. Some people in-the-know estimate that, of the newer wines, 1% to 3% of desirable vintages are fake. This is a significant problem, and vintners are now taking extra steps such as labels printed in currency quality and embedded chips in either the label or cork. As for older wines, the collectables, their guess is close to 20%.
The good thing for most wine forgers is that most of their product is purchased for collections, and not to drink; thus, the forgery is rarely discovered in time to investigate the origin of the bottles … obscured by the tannins of time. To further complicate the issues of origin, if one does drink the wine, who is to say what a bottle of 1947 Chateau Tonto Cru is truly supposed to taste like?
The offense is compounded when the evidence has a hard time going down.
As for one of your editors, he likes Spanish Tempranillios, Riojas and ArgentineMalbecs – if anyone was thinking of a gift, that editor can be persuaded with an emolument. Just a thought.