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© 2015 Wolfgang Bitterolf
...a blog about the lighter side of wine...
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December 2, 2015

The biggest wine fraud in history

There is a world of connoisseurs who collect - and drink - very rare wines. They have a palate that can differentiate between a very good Bordeaux and a very rare one - or so they think. They also have the wallets to pay for such rarities.

There are rare wine auctions, usually held in fine restaurants in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and London, where some collectors may pay over $100,000 for a bottle of what may be considered a trophy wine.

In the early 2000s one of the most celebrated wine collectors was Rudy Kurniawan. He had amassed big amounts of rare wines in different auctions and by 2007 he was hailed as having ''the greatest cellar on earth''.

In 2006 he offered some of his wines in two auctions in New York and netted $10.6 million in the first one and $24.7 million in the second one - a world record.

In 2008 Kurniawan offered several bottles of Domaine Ponsot Clos St. Denis with vintages ranging from 1945 to 1971. Laurent Ponsot, the head of Domaine Ponsot was at the auction and got suspicious since the domaine had not made a Clos St. Denis prior to 1982. He reported that those wines had to be forgeries to the FBI, and that was the beginning of the end for the scheme.

Four years later, in March 2012, Kurniawan was arrested in his home in California where all kinds of old French bulk wines and wines from Napa Valley together with fake labels, stamps, bottles, corking equipment and corks were discovered.

Rudy Kurniawan's real name was Zhen Wang Huang, he was born in Indonesia and was illegally in the States. He was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $28.4 million to his victims.

Being one who rarely spends more than $15.00 on a bottle of wine I am absolutely sure that all my wines are authentic.

Sources: vanityfair.com • latimes.com • wikipedia.org

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