2014-08-22 11:10 Source£º
W. Blake Gray Translator:
Maureen Downey reassures us that only certain old vintages of a short list of wines are targets for fakers.
Rudy Kurniawan may be in prison, but hundreds of counterfeit wines are still out there.
The good news is that based in large part on evidence federal investigators recovered from Kurniawan's home-counterfeiting lab, experts now know the wines most likely to be faked.
Maureen Downey, founder of Chai Consulting, is one of the world's leading experts on wine forgeries. She testified for the government in Kurniawan's trial, though she said Wednesday that she has some sympathy for him. Kurniawan was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"Rudy sold $130 million worth of fake wine because other people told him to," says Downey, who blames retailers and auction houses for not taking more care with their goods. "He's in a prison cell and they're out and living well. And the wines are still out there."
Downey says she has been involved this year in trying to break up a ring of European counterfeiters who invite people to $10,000 tastings that include many fake wines. She has seen photos on the Internet posted by excited attendees, and noted that the exact same bottle was supposedly emptied months earlier.
"They sell the same bottles over and over again," she says.
Reassuringly, Downey says the list of fine wines that counterfeiters like to make is very short. She said has seen counterfeit Screaming Eagle, and Opus One CEO David Pearson said Wednesday he has seen one counterfeit bottle of Opus One.
But the Top 16 Counterfeit Wines are all European.
Here is the list, according to Downey:
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti
Chateau Cheval Blanc
Chateau Lafite Rothschild
Chateau Mouton Rothschild
Chateau Le Pin
Chateau Latour ?Pomerol
Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage
Soldera Brunello di Montalcino
Bruno Giacosa Barolo
Downey adds that even on that list, only a few vintages have been counterfeited. There may always be a lure for counterfeiters to try to make a fake DRC wine in any vintage, but not so much for the others.
"Lafleur, outside of a couple of vintages, just isn't worth doing," Downey said.
Opus One's Pearson said that Chateau Lafite Rothschild was probably the most-counterfeited wine in China, but that so many fakes have been made that reputable Chinese wine shops are leery of carrying even real Lafite these days. Even with Lafite, some vintages are more likely to be safe than others.
Downey said the best counterfeit wine she ever tasted was a 1964 Lafite that had been sold as a 1961. The counterfeiter had simply scraped off a part of the last number to disguise it as the more valuable vintage. It wasn't a '61, but it was still Lafite.
"That bottle was rocking," Downey said.