One topic of conversation during a Lafleur tasting last Sunday in Beverly Hills was fake bottles. Many of the two dozen or so wine collectors at the tasting were upset over what they perceived as an increase in the trafficking of fake, high-end bottles. Some even made speeches during the tasting about it.
I think the fact that a bottle of 1990 Lafleur was fake at the tasting on Saturday only added to their frustrations. I was not there, but apparently the bottle looked good, including the capsule and label, but when they pulled the cork, it read “Haut-Medoc"!
One of the participants, Russell Frye, a cool collector and tech guy, said that he was going to start a Web site for fake bottles. Something like www.fakebottles.com, but it is not up and running yet. “I am the proud owner of two imperials of 1961 Pétrus, and apparently they were never made,” he said unhappily. He said that it was an expensive lesson to learn about fake bottles.
He also said that he was thinking of starting a Web site where wine collectors would register their good bottles, so the provenance of these wines could be followed and verified. Sounds good to me.
The problem is that these rare old bottles and highly sought-after collectibles have become so expensive that it makes sense for counterfeiters to do their business. Who would have ever thought that three jeroboams of 1978 Romanée-Conti would sell for the price of a new 430 Ferrari or an apartment in Miami? Or how about the wine guy who just sold “part” of his collection in a New York auction for more than $24 million. Apparently he needed to raise some capital for a big deal in the Far East. It used to be the other way around: Make money with the big business deal and then buy some big wine!
This problem is only going to get worse. And I think that wine merchants, whether brick-and-mortar, Internet or auctions, need to protect their customers more. However, there have already been too many questionable bottles bought and sold through these channels in the past, so I don’t expect much of a change in the future unless buyers really start complaining like those at the tasting did.
The same thing happened with art and antiques. It wasn’t big money 30 or 40 years ago but now it is. I have friends and family in England who have bought fake furniture through auction. Just how fake it was no one really knew. Maybe it was a Regency chair but a couple of the legs were Victorian because they were repaired at that time. Things like that. But they complained and dealers and auction houses took note.
Funny enough, my neighbor at the Lafleur tasting said that he preferred the fake 1990 Lafleur to the real one that was served on Sunday … and I don’t think he was joking! Hmmmm ….
Glenn S Lucash — November 7, 2006 2:01pm ET
Joseph Romualdi — Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada — November 7, 2006 3:58pm ET
Joseph Romualdi — Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada — November 7, 2006 3:59pm ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — November 7, 2006 4:04pm ET
Mark Mccullough — GA — November 7, 2006 5:56pm ET
Freelon Hunter — Kent, Washington — November 7, 2006 7:34pm ET
Thomas Bohrer — Hong Kong — November 7, 2006 8:46pm ET
Alexander Wong — Hong Kong — November 8, 2006 2:43am ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — November 8, 2006 3:06am ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — November 8, 2006 3:32am ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — November 8, 2006 3:34am ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — November 8, 2006 7:00am ET
James Suckling — — November 8, 2006 8:59am ET
Bob Golbahar — Los Angeles — November 8, 2006 7:19pm ET
Rob Lentini — Alexandria, Virginia — November 10, 2006 10:15am ET
Scott Hilderbrand — Casper, WY — November 21, 2006 2:29am ET
Scott Hilderbrand — Casper, WY — November 21, 2006 9:57am ET
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