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A victory in the war against fake wines

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2012-03-05


Decanter reported this week that an alleged wine fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan, has been arrested in the USA after indefatigable efforts by Laurent Ponsot of the great, eponymous Burgundy estate.

Ponsot's efforts were aided by European sommeliers who were able to confirm the names of people who had approached them, and paid for, empty wine bottles. The idea that trade in illicit fine wine is abetted by professionals whose careers are often driven out of personal passion was an initial shock. It's all too easy of course, offering bribes to relatively poorly paid restaurant workers in the knowledge that the cost of acquiring empty bottles and carefully drawn corks to be reused and resealed is a bagatelle compared to the returns at auction of increasingly rare, ageing wine stocks.The problem is significant enough for Ponsot to assert that 80% of pre 1980 Burgundy sold at auction is counterfeit.I do hope not, as I think back to an Averys bottling of 1934 Amoureuses that was particularly ethereal, combining sweetness, silkiness and surprising intensity of flavour. But then, that's hardly the sort of bottling that your average global fine wine fraudster would select for maximising returns. In a world driven by brand, elite producer names are the inevitable target.

And whatever the percentage, there's no doubt that the risks of coming across fake wine is increasing, making it more important than ever to insist on photography for great names pre-2000, inspection, and where provenance is not impeccable, to either pass or recognise the risk that you may be running. There are some precautions that stop well short of being foolproof. Look for capsule tampering, capsules and labels that look too clean and unusually high fill levels. Once the bottle has been opened, check for incorrect vintage stamps, unusual depth of colour, an unexpectedly young taste or a wine that hasn't thrown any kind of sediment. However, this cannot be the answer. A new system of provenance is surely needed, where older stocks can be traced back, at least some of the way, through transfer of title, movements, location and inspections. Traceability and reliability of source will increasingly justify much higher prices for the best stock, and lead to a greater disparity of value between two bottles of the same wine. We are already seeing the gap widening between direct from producer, ex cellars or chateau older wines, and secondary market sources whose history is opaque. It is well worth the investment in time and good discrimination to buy secondary market stock with good provenance. Education on informed buying is urgently needed.


Buying from reputable fine wine merchants & brokers

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2012-03-05


Check out Jim Budd's excellent blog and site, who has been leading the good fight against disreputable and financially risky traders for many years.

The message is loud and clear when looking to invest in wine:

  • Stick to established sources, especially when buying futures
  • Use pricing tools such as Wine Searcher to establish fair market value based on a known range of selling prices if in any doubt
  • Report suspicious cold calls and hard selling to Jim.

I've met intelligent people who have invested in wine futures and lost considerable amounts of money. Basic checks and following Jim's advice is as good a way as any to ensure many, many years of happy drinking and fine wine appreciation.


Parker re-rates Top Bordeaux 2009

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2012-03-04


Around 9am on Friday 2nd March 2012 my inbox lit up with wave after wave of 2009 Bordeaux offers from wine merchants. (Congratulations to Flint Wines for refreshingly focusing on an up-and-coming Burgundian grower.) In the weeks leading up to last Friday, merchants had taken the opportunity to inform private customers that RP's new scores were imminent, and that now was a good time to pick over market prices, many of which had fallen from their release price and 2011 highs.

I'd already done all my 2009 'business' during 2010/11 so stood by and watched. Parker duly came out with his new 2009 scores and a glowing recommendation - like 1982 (on which he made his reputation) but better thanks to advances in wine making, a return to traditional vineyard husbandry, and greater de-classification of parcels into second and third wines (in fairness common arguments trotted out regularly by the regisseurs and chateau owners in Bordeaux). What surprised everyone was how many high points he awarded his favourite wines - 18 wines getting 100 points; in comparison to just 6 wines in each of the two great vintages of 2000 and 1982.

Here are the final 100 pointers thanks to Ditton Wine Traders

wine bottle barrel
Beausejour Duffau Lagarosse 100 96-98
Bellevue Mondot 100 95-100
Clinet 100 97-100
Clos Fourtet 100 95-98
Cos d'Estournel 100 98-100
Ducru Beaucaillou 100 96-98
L'Evangile 100 96-100
Haut Brion 100 96-100
La Mission Haut Brion 100 98-100
La Mondotte 100 95-98
Latour 100 98-100
Le Pin 100 95-98
Leoville Poyferre 100 97-100
Montrose 100 96-100
Pavie 100 96-100
Petrus 100 96-100
Pontet Canet 100 97-100
Smith Haut Lafitte 100 96-98

And Friday's price increases vs the previous day's prices ranked from high to low

Wine prior after % change
Beausejour Duffau Lagarosse £1,000 £2,400 140%
Clos Fourtet £750 £1,800 140%
Smith Haut Lafitte £680 £1,600 135%
Clinet £1,500 £2,200 47%
Le Pin £18,000 £25,000 39%
Montrose £1,900 £2,550 34%
Leoville Poyferre £1,350 £1,800 33%
Pontet Canet £1,350 £1,800 33%
L'Evangile £2,300 £2,750 20%
La Mondotte £2,550 £3,000 18%
Petrus £25,000 £29,000 16%
Cos d'Estournel £2,800 £3,200 14%
Pavie £2,200 £2,500 14%
Ducru Beaucaillou £2,000 £2,200 10%
Haut Brion £7,400 £8,000 8%
Bellevue Mondotte £2,550 £2,750 8%
La Mission Haut Brion £5,600 £6,000 7%
Latour £11,700 £11,800 1%


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